Police chief reassures public during pandemic

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
The Darien Police Department at 25 Hecker Avenue in Darien, Conn on Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

The Darien Police Department at 25 Hecker Avenue in Darien, Conn on Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

Brian A. Pounds / Brian A. Pounds

At Darien Police Commission’s special meeting on Wednesday, the police chief reassured residents that the department is well staffed and capable of responding to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as all other town emergencies.

“We are staffed 24-7 to give you the public safety service you expect,” Chief Don Anderson said.

The meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, was the first virtual meeting in the Darien Police Commission’s history, according to police.

COVID-19 staffing, response and protocols

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, school resource officers and traffic officers have been re-deployed back into the patrol division to ensure there is sufficient staffing to cover shifts.

Currently, the department is pretty well stocked with protective gear. However, wipes are difficult to obtain, according to Anderson.

The department is now able to take reports over the phone, which they were previously only doing in person.

“It’s been working pretty well,” Anderson said. “I can even notarize things electronically.”

There is a voluntary survey going out to the public through email after police take reports over the phone. Police are looking for input on what they could do better over the phone, what worked, what was difficult for residents filing a report, and what they might expect more of in the future. Police will compile that data and work off if it.

Police have incorporated in-house protocols to minimize exposure to the virus.

“The captains and I keep our six-foot distance,” Anderson said. “We’ve instructed all employees that work in the building to stay in their work areas if at all possible.”

Until further notice, the following protocols are in effect:

 Closed to vehicular access: Beaches, parks

 Closed: Fields, playgrounds, all school campuses and tennis courts

“You can walk through the beach. You can’t gather with more than five people, per the governor,” Anderson said. “You should be maintaining social distance.”

To date, there have been no officers who tested positive for COVID-19. However, there were some who have been in quarantine because of potential exposure.

For a list of Darien’s COVID-19’s resources, visit the town website and click on the COVID-19 link in red at the top.

For questions about the police department’s operation during COVID-19, contact Anderson by sending an email to danderson@darienct.gov or calling (203) 662-5300.

Crime, call volume

From March 3 to April 6, there were 17 burglaries of unlocked cars, one burglary of a locked vehicle which involved a forced entry of breaking a window, and five stolen motor vehicles that were unlocked with the keys inside.

The call volume across the board has dropped dramatically, according to Anderson.

“By and large, people are trying to obey the rules and stay home, creating distance and riding this thing out,” Anderson said.

Pedestrian and bicyclist safety

Darien Police Department have issued a reminder on the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians and bicyclists and motorists. Read more here.

Pedestrians are required to walk on the sidewalk if a sidewalk is provided, Anderson said.

“If you’re on a road that there is not a sidewalk, you’re required to walk against traffic, as close to the road as practical, so you can see traffic coming towards you,” he said.

He added that walking with one’s back to traffic is “inherently unsafe, especially if you’re pushing a stroller or you have earbuds in, or watching a video or talking on the phone.”

“Bicyclists must obey the rules of the road, much like a motor vehicle,” he said.

They must obey red lights, they have to turn from the proper spot in the lane, and they have to ride the bicycle as close to the right as they deem safe, according to Anderson.

Bicycles can ride no more than two abreast, but one can’t do so as to impede traffic.

Packed bicycle racing and riding in Darien is not lawful and not safe.

Traffic issues

There is an issue with traffic and speeding on Andrews Drive. A traffic control bollard has been placed there. A bollard is a short post used to guide traffic and mark boundaries.

On Pear Tree Point Road, walking single file, as close to the side of the road is the most helpful, according to Anderson.

Motions passed, events

A motion was unanimously approved for the Community Fund of Darien’s road race on Sept. 13. This will be the 41st running of the event. There will be a 1.5 mile course and a 5 mile course, using the same route as was used the last two years.

A motion was unanimously approved from the False Alarm Account Request for $800 to replenish supplies that are given out at the department’s Coffee with a Cop. Supplies include cups, pens, stickers, clip-on badges, and a retractable banner that indicates the event.

The Police Commission passed a unanimous motion to approve the Noroton Fire Department’s 125th anniversary parade. The parade will be on Friday, June 25, 2021 at 7 p.m.

Police will convene with numerous other town fire departments at Darien High School. They are anticipating 20 to 25 fire departments being involved from the area. Each fire department is expecting approximately 20 marchers.

The Noroton Presbyterian Church Road event is currently in a holding pattern and waiting to see what happens in regard to the virus.

The next regularly scheduled Darien Police Commission meeting is May 6.

Watch the Darien Police Commission Special meeting on Darien TV/79.