Scott Johnson

These unusual times call for unusual actions to protect us all. As a police department, we are following the direction of the Itasca County Public Health Department and the Minnesota Department of Health, which are the lead agencies in this pandemic.

A week ago, in an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) the city closed the library and IRA Civic Center. The governor also closed the schools in Minnesota. Schools had an additional burden placed on their plate as they are now responsible for some day care functions and have school buses delivering meals for children to select locations in the community. The city remains in close contact with our partners in ISD 318.

A week ago, the city’s Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan was activated. This plan prioritizes city services and describes how city departments will continue to provide essential services during this pandemic.

On Monday, the city closed public access to the City Hall, Police Station and the Public Works Department. Non-essential city employees have been sent home. In some cases, they can work from home. To maximize social distancing, the Public Works Department has staggered their work schedule.

Police officers still patrol our streets and firefighters respond to fire calls. Meds-1 Paramedics, as always, provides emergency medical care to the sick and injured. Essential city services, including building permits and inspections, snowplowing and maintenance continue to take place. Although City Hall is closed for the time being, telephones are still being answered.

Additionally, in an effort to promote social distancing, we have made some adjustments in the Police Department. Without support staff to process permits to purchase firearms, for the time being, retailers will have to perform background checks at the time of purchase. The police department non-emergency telephone number of 218-326-3464 now rings directly into the Sheriff’s Dispatch Center. Dispatchers have contact with officers by radio.

Shoplifting calls in which there are store security people on-duty will usually result in a report being submitted to the police department and the officer mailing a summons to the individual to appear in court. Requests for police reports, including traffic accident reports, should be made by a telephone call to the police station. We can email reports or send them via the U S Postal Service.

Officers are also trying to minimize the number of people that we place in the county jail, searching for reasonable alternatives to short-term incarceration. We have always had a close working relationship with surrounding public safety agencies, especially the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department and State Patrol.

We will get through this together. For more information on city services, closures and cancellations, residents are encouraged to check the city’s website at cityofgrandrapidsmn.com or call the City Hall at 218-326-7600.

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