Augusta’s first responder response during the COVID-19 pandemic

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Just like our local health care workers, police officers in the CSRA are on the front lines every day. Phone lines at the 911 center in Augusta are busy and now people are calling to get information about a mysterious virus since Georgia’s shelter-in-place ordinance went into effect last week. 

Daniel Dunlap, the Director of 911 Emergency Services said, “We’re still receiving the full array of anything from vehicle accidents, to stolen property, to house fires, medical calls.”

There have been more than 92,000 incidents investigated in Richmond County since the start of 2020.

“In the month of March, we answered over 7,700 calls, direct contact with citizens,” said Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

Once coronavirus started to spread in the CSRA, many Augustans called the Garden City’s emergency services non-emergency line, 311, to find answers about the strange illness.

“Whether it’s in relation to the executive order that came out from the governor or what came out of the mayor. And we’re just trying to make sure we’re passing along accurate information,” said Dunlap.

But now some of those non-emergency calls are being made to the emergency line.

“This is a job we signed up for and sometimes it goes very much underappreciated but it’s a job that has to be done. We’re happy to fill it but if the people can help us, by again, limiting those contacts, limiting those resources, we will be a stronger county by the end of this.,” said Sheriff Roundtree.

Right now, Richmond County deputies are practicing differential response. It’s when a deputy can take a police report over the phone rather than have an officer show up at the place the alleged incident happened.

Sheriff Roundtree explained. “We don’t ever want to use a crisis as a measuring tool as far as enforcement opportunities or crime stats. We’re about saving lives but the point is when every call comes in, we’re going to have to respond to them. So each one, even though the direct calls are down because we’re doing differential response, those are still answered calls. It only takes that one call that can end in a tragic situation.”

To properly divert resources, Sherriff Roundtree encouraged people to call 311 for non-emergencies and coronavirus questions. Someone on the line will be able to help. Of course, if you do have an emergency, call 911.

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