ST. GEORGE —In a somewhat ironic twist, a number of police departments across Utah and throughout the country are asking criminals to behave themselves and cease their illegal activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The tongue-in-cheek #socialdistancingnow and #behaveyourself movements that began migrating across the U.S. last month involve a number of police departments in several states, including Utah, Colorado, Wisconsin and Washington, that have posted messages on social media calling on criminals to take a hiatus from their nefarious activities to allow officers to respond to coronavirus-related issues.
The Salt Lake City Police Department, for example, requested in a post on Facebook last month that “all criminal activities/nefarious behavior” needs to cease “until further notice.”
“We appreciate your anticipated cooperation in halting crime and thank criminals in advance.”
In Orem, the police department posted an announcement March 13 on social media advising that “in light of recent events and health concerns,” the Orem Police Department is “closed to crime for the next two weeks.”
“Please do not commit any vehicle burglaries, thefts, don’t do any drugs, slap your spouse, or even think about parking a vehicle on a street for more than 72 consecutive hours.”
Additionally, officials also listed the Utah and city municipal criminal code sections which provide “a complete list of what not to do during this time period,” adding that officers and dispatchers appreciate any cooperation and the department will advise when “this crime ban has been lifted.”
Unfortunately, the post may not have been as effective as the department had hoped, because on March 26, police expressed disappointment in the fact that many individuals “did not observe the crime ban we previously announced.”
“Folks if we have to break up any house parties wearing our hazmat suits so we don’t get Corona’d, we are not going to be happy about it,” the post said.
The message ended by saying, “Be safe, be healthy, stay at home, and don’t commit crimes or we will quarantake you to jail.”
A similar message was posted by the Logan County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado, which politely asked that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its contagious nature, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office is asking “that all criminal activities/nefarious conduct to cease until further notice. We appreciate your anticipated cooperation in halting crime and thank criminals in advance.”
The post went a step further by promising an update when conditions change, saying, “We will update you when you can return to your normal criminal behavior.”
In Oregon, instead of asking criminals to stop committing crimes, the Newport Police Department posted a proactive message on their Facebook page imploring citizens not to call 911 if they run out of toilet paper.
“You will survive without our help,” the department’s post said.
In the event residents do run out of toilet paper, the message included a vast list of possible alternatives, many of which have been used throughout history, including using the enormous amount of natural resources found within the region.
Seamen used “old rope and anchor lines soaked in salt water,” the post stated, while the ancient Romans resorted to using a “sea sponge on a stick” that was also soaked in salt water.
Newport is known by many as the capital of the Oregon coast. “We are a coastal town. We have an abundance of salt water available.”
If all else fails, the department closed by saying, “Just don’t call 911. We cannot bring you toilet paper.”
Locally, the St. George Police Department posted a video on the department’s social media page where St. George Police Officer Tiffany Atkin officiated a demonstration showing the various duties for which the motorcycle and bike patrol units are typically tasked, She also said that officers are now outfitted with protective gear.
The video ended by showing a race between motorcycle and mountain bike officers, which included a request to the public to comment on “who did it better – the motor guy or the bike guy.”
Amid the humor, police departments are also reinforcing a more serious message asking the public to stay home and reassuring the public that officers are out in full force protecting the public. “We can’t stay at home, but hopefully you can!” the Salt Lake City Police Department posted. “Despite this, we still have a full force of officers out in the community helping where we are needed. We are doing everything we can to keep our community and officers safe.”
In Washington and Iron Counties, police departments know they have a job to do and are responding to calls without hesitation.
“Officers are human just like everyone else,” Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams said in a prior interview. “But we still have a job to do, so we will continue responding to calls and protecting the public regardless.”
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