In addition to wearing masks, local law enforcement officers are conducting traffic stops a little differently because of the coronavirus.

Instead of approaching a vehicle on the driver’s side, Grand Island police officers might come up on the passenger’s side, to create more distance between themselves and the driver. Some officers use that approach normally, but the number of passenger-side approaches has increased, said Capt. Jim Duering.

During the pandemic, Hall County Sheriff Rick Conrad says, there’s no reason for deputies to take a driver’s license out of a person’s hand, unless they’re carefully switching gloves.

Deputies can just write the information down off the license, Conrad said.

Police officers are asking drivers to hold up their license for them to look at, or to press it against the window.

If police officers issue a citation, they leave the pen with the offender.

“We just bought a whole bunch of cheap pens. It’s just the cost of doing business right now,” Duering said.

Conrad has told his deputies to be cautious and have as little contact with the public as possible. But he knows there are times deputies have to make contact.

The number of traffic stops is down, because traffic has dropped off.

The public is not free to ignore traffic laws, “because we are making traffic stops,” Conrad said. But he tells deputies that “you’d better be ready to write a ticket if you’re going to stop somebody.”

The Sheriff’s Department has provided employees with masks, glasses and gloves.

In addition to masks, police officers wear gloves when appropriate, Duering said. Officers will wear more protective equipment, such as face shields, if they’re called to an unattended death or if someone is symptomatic or has tested positive.

The Sheriff’s Department and Police Department work well together, Conrad said.

At the Law Enforcement Center, office hours have been reduced.

The Sheriff’s Department has stopped doing title inspections. For a while, Hall County was one of the few places in the state still doing those inspections. People were making the trip from other counties.

In order to no longer put the staff at risk and bring people into the community, the Sheriff’s Department stopped doing those inspections.

No Sheriff’s Department employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We’re holding up very well,” Conrad said. “A few people have been tested over the time, but knock on wood, we’ve had no positive tests.”

Several weeks ago, the Police Department had one employee test positive. That person was a civilian employee, not a certified officer. That person quarantined for 14 days after the date of the test and is back at work.

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