Pella Police warn of COVID-19 scams

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Pella Police Department (photo from Pella PD Facebook page)

Many changes have taken place at the Pella Police Department the past few weeks, well beyond the departure of former Chief Robert Bokinsky.

Interim Chief Paul Haase tells the Tribune that the department has been busy preparing for dealing with the public during the pandemic. Officers are wearing personal protective equipment based upon what emergency or call to which they are responding.

Dispatchers now ask pertinent questions on all calls for service regarding what the issue is, to help officers be better prepared upon arrival. Though social distancing is encouraged now, there remains emergencies and situations in which officers will be unable to follow the guidelines. For the most part, however, officers remain proactive in protecting themselves and the public from any viral exposure.

Limiting the amount of face-to-face interaction with the public is hard for the department, Haase said, as officers are very community-oriented.

As the social distancing and other precautions lag on, the department remains concerned about the growing possibility of scammers taking advantage. Everyone should be aware that scammers are using this opportunity to call or email potential victims in the hopes of fraudulently gaining one’s personal information. The PPD has already seen an increase in these calls.

Haase advises residents that Public Health, the Internal Revenue Service and other legitimate entities will not request that you send them money. Please be aware that scammers are targeting local residents.

There is also the threat that, if economic troubles arise from the virus, an increase in thefts may be seen. Be aware that the police department is still available.

For Haase, who has been in this new role for only a brief time, the transition has been made more interesting with the virus. His goal is to keep staff healthy and the community safe. The department is working hard to be prepared for whatever may arise.

“There are still a lot of unknowns,” Haase said. “The police department is well-prepared. We have a great department, great officers and great dispatchers.”