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Town Talk: Policing during the COVID-19 crisis

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the New Ulm community. The pandemic makes this a very challenging time for all of us. We are trying to balance staying healthy to protect ourselves and others with maintaining our income, so we can pay our bills. This is an unprecedented time, yet our community has really done a nice job handling this situation and protecting each other. Cleary, this is a wonderful community to live and work in. I am proud to call this my home.

The services provided by emergency management and the police department haven’t changed due to the pandemic. We are still open for business. Our patrol & investigations are still available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. Nothing has changed regarding our availability. All of our essential services remain exactly the same. Officers are on patrol and available to respond to any & all law enforcement requests.

What has changed slightly is some non-essential services are temporary modified. For example, we have suspended fingerprinting for professional licensing. Also, our gun permit (permit to purchase and permit to carry) application process hours of operation have been reduced to Monday-Friday (8 a.m.-4 p.m.). Please note that the reduced hours will not affect the actual processing time for the gun permit.

Our delivery of service has adjusted to better respond to the community during this pandemic. We are trying to make every effort to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 infections for everyone’s benefit. We are recommending that if the resident can consider another method of communication other than personal contact, please consider that option. Many of our services have been handled by phone calls versus personal visits to avoid physical distance challenges. This method has really appeared to work well for everyone involved.

In the event that the nature of service requires personal contact with the police officers, we are recommending that the interaction occurs in an open area, possibly the backyard or someplace large enough to allow for physical distancing. In some cases, we may provide you with a facemask and if you can tolerate it, we will politely ask you to wear it. During those times, we will also likely be wearing a mask to better protect each other. Essentially, we are being advised by higher government to treat everyone as if they are infected with COVID, this also includes ourselves.

We will continue to update everyone using newspapers, radio and social media. Communication is very important during these times and we look forward to the opportunity to share information. This is a challenging time with many changes constantly occurring; however, what won’t change is the police department’s willingness to serve the community. As a representative of the New Ulm Police Department, I can assure you that we are proud to serve you and will continue to do so.

Thank you.

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Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

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