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Vermillion Police adapt to coronavirus

With social distancing being recommended, some crimes in the Vermillion area have increased while others have decreased.

Matt Betzen, chief of the Vermillion Police Department (VPD), said he began to notice the trend of certain crimes going down and its impact on the type of calls being received.

“Unfortunately we have seen an increase in the number of calls for disputes between persons, domestic type, family type or neighbor type disputes between people,” Betzen said. “It’s about a 50 percent increase in those.”

On average, Betzen said VPD handles about 120 to 130 calls in a regular week.

Officers have had to change the way they assess certain situations and how they deal with them due to the COVID-19, Betzen said. Crimes like theft or after the fact situations would lead to being cited rather than an arrest.

“When possible, we don’t make arrests. We cite people or refer the cases up to a state attorney,” Betzen said. “If the situation requires an immediate arrest to defuse a potentially violent situation, we still make arrests.”

The coronavirus has also impacted how Vermillion Police are taking certain precautions to protect themselves and the people in the community. As of March 28, there is one confirmed case in Vermillion with three cases pending and approximately 20 tests conducted.

Betzen said using social distancing effectively is key in this situation.

“We’re working on officers getting more personal protective gear such as old riot helmets that have face shields on them,” Betzen said. “We’ve gotten a lot more gloves and we’re working on getting more masks that meet the CDC recommendations.”

Betzen said he hopes everyone stays safe and exercises social distancing and helps limit the spread of the coronavirus by only going outside when necessary.

“We’re all just trying to figure this out as we go along and we’ll see what happens,” Betzen said.