West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton simulates having his temperature checked by Police Services Aid Jessica Meyer June 2. Temperature checks are part of the “new normal” for members of the police department.

West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton simulates having his temperature checked by Police Services Aid Jessica Meyer June 2. Temperature checks are part of the “new normal” for members of the police department.

Photo by Deb Jacques


West Bloomfield Police Department has made changes due to pandemic

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 4, 2020

 West Bloomfield Police Services Aid Jessica Meyer sits at a health screening table June 2. Police employees must check in at the table prior to beginning work.

West Bloomfield Police Services Aid Jessica Meyer sits at a health screening table June 2. Police employees must check in at the table prior to beginning work.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — After months of COVID-19 anxiety throughout the state, there was a bright spot June 1, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Safer at Home order had been rescinded.

Residents eager to go out to eat or make a trip to a retail store can begin enjoying those activities again, with social distancing and capacity-limit restrictions in effect.

But despite things opening back up, West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton shared a word of caution.

“Still be careful about how you interact with people, your social distancing, when it’s appropriate to wear a mask and how often you should wash your hands,” Patton said. “Some of that at least has to continue into the near future in order to mitigate the continued spread of this because we don’t want it to come back with any kind of force.”

Patton does not want to see a continuation of the negative impact COVID-19 has already had in West Bloomfield. He said the south end of the township, which is area code 48322, has consistently been one of the top three locations for the greatest number of deaths in Oakland County.

“So we are not immune from this kind of thing here in West Bloomfield,” Patton said.

According to West Bloomfield Deputy Chief Curt Lawson, something that has made a “big difference” was the establishment of an emergency operations center “right at the beginning of this pandemic on March 13.”

“What that did was that brought together police, fire, information technology, the finance department, human resources (and) other partners in the community, like West Bloomfield parks,” Lawson said. “Everyone had a seat at a table, and they were able to coordinate, to plan, to make sure we had logistics and that they could have a word in how everything was run as far as operations. … We were one of the first townships or cities to establish an emergency operations center.”

Aside from that coordinated effort, the cooperation of residents has made things easier for the Police Department during the pandemic.

“I give credit to everybody that’s trying to do the right things here,” Patton said. “We have not been heavy-handed here in West Bloomfield. We have not issued any citations to anybody. Most of the times, if we had a complaint about a violation of the stay-at-home order or one of the other executive orders, then, usually, a brief conversation with the responsible person or party was sufficient to correct the matter.”

With many people staying home during the pandemic, the crime rate has taken a turn for the better.

“As far as the Police Department’s concerned, our numbers were way down, as far as crime,” Lawson said. “It gave our detectives a chance to catch up on their caseload. Many of our detectives have 30 to 40 cases per detective that they’re actively working. … We allowed many of our officers to work from home. We wanted to give them an opportunity to keep that social distancing.”

With things opening back up, residents can expect to see a change that Patton wants them to be mindful of.

“As the roads get congested again, the traffic increases, you’ll see traffic crashes go up,” he said. “Somewhat predictable, so we caution people to be mindful of their driving behaviors.”

The combination of the Safer at Home order being rescinded and warmer temperatures is likely to make things busier for the West Bloomfield Police Department.

“We are expecting to see more police runs as the weather gets warmer,” Lawson said. “We’re still dealing with COVID-19, but we’re also dealing with the unrest we’ve seen throughout the country. So we have multiple fronts that we’re paying attention to right now.”

Aside from seeing police officers wearing masks and gloves as part of their personal protection equipment, residents can also expect another change.

“Most of our residents and businesses have been seeing a police officer face-to-face,” Patton said. “Well, because of the elevated concerns, not only for them, but for us, too, we’re minimizing a number of our face-to-face contacts. We’re not going out and engaging the community on an interpersonal basis like we have in the past.”

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