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Police patrols 'very quiet' in Sandwich due to COVID-19 stay-at-home order

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SANDWICH – With fewer people out and about due to the Illinois stay-at-home order in effect until April 30 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Sandwich police patrols have been quieter than usual, according to police officials.

According to Sandwich police data, there were a total of 221 incidents from March 21 to March 30, as opposed to the 186 total incidents from the same time last year. That is excluding officer-initiated extra patrols and business or building checks, according to Sandwich police personnel.

Similarly to what Yorkville, Oswego, Montgomery and Plano police departments have been seeing, Sandwich police traffic stops have dropped significantly from this year to last year due to COVID-19. There were seven traffic stops from March 21 to March 30 compared to the 24 stops from around the same time last year in Sandwich, according to police data.

Sandwich Police Chief Jim Bianchi said it's been "very, very quiet" on police patrol routes within the city lately – which is good, he said. Police officers continue to maintain their presence and watching everything as normal, including keeping track of any excess of alcohol and domestic calls, for example.

"So far it's pretty status quo," Bianchi said.

But the drop in traffic stops doesn't mean a lack of enforcement, Bianchi said. Officers will continue to be there when they're needed for any calls that may come up, he said.

"But if something needs to be enforced, we're going to do our job," Bianchi said.

There was one traffic accident this year and six traffic accidents around the same time last year, according to Sandwich police data.

There hasn't been a lot of change in the number of domestic incidents this year from last year, according to Sandwich police data. There were four from March 21 to March 30 and three around the same time last year.

There were zero scams, batteries, assaults and house and vehicle burglaries for the same time frame both years, according to Sandwich data.

Bianchi said he has been patrolling along with his officers as part of his longer days lately in helping to maintain the city's police presence.

"I think it's important that people see everybody, including me," Bianchi said.

Bianchi said no Sandwich police personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus. He said he has been participating in multiple conference calls, including through the Illinois State Police and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, for further guidance on protocol for those types of matters.

"So if it happens, we'll make sure people know," Bianchi said.

Bianchi said the department has received some calls from concerned citizens about people not following social distancing guidelines, including having unauthorized gatherings. He said officers address those concerns as they come in by checking out to see if any non-essential businesses are still operating during this time.

"For the most part, it's just people misunderstanding what's going on and there haven't been any violations, from what we've seen," Bianchi said.

Bianchi said police officers are still doing traffic details as per usual, but they aren't pulling people over for the sake of determining if their travel is essential. He said officers have been giving people their space, they have worked out protocols, they have identified high risk areas and high visibility and they are equipped with personal protective equipment.

Bianchi said he urges residents to keep up with social distancing and to stay at home. He said he understands it's getting rough for most residents due to being cooped up.

"The light's at the end of the tunnel and we'll get through this," Bianchi said.

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