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MONTGOMERY – The number of incidents reported by Montgomery police officials decreased significantly toward the end of last month compared to last year during the Illinois stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
According to data from the Montgomery Police Department, there have been 173 incidents from March 21 to March 30, 2020. That's about a third of the total number from the same time last year, which was 488.
There were three vehicle burglaries last year and zero this year, according to the data. Scams including fraud, deceptive practice and identity theft went down from seven last year to three this year.
There were four times as many traffic accidents last year as there have been around that same time last year, according to the data. Traffic stops went down from 220 last year to one this year.
Montgomery Police Cmdr. Liz Palko said those numbers support what police officials have been noticing and that they think people are making an effort to adhere to the statewide stay-at-home order from Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, which has been extended through April 30. She said the major drop in overall incidents is a good statistic and that officers are proactive in traffic enforcement, but it doesn't mean that has ceased — policing just might look a little different lately.
“So we're still out and about, but clearly everybody needs to take this seriously and our guys need to stay healthy as well,” Palko said.
Palko said as of late Friday, April 3 morning that there have been no Montgomery police personnel that have tested positive for COVID-19. She said the department has access to personal protective equipment, or PPE, with neighboring agencies through Kane County Emergency Management.
Palko said the police department's doors will never be locked to the public, but people can only get to the lobby of the building. For those who want to file reports at the station, she said, the citizen would be buzzed into the building and officers will help the citizen behind glass.
"So they're having face-to-face interaction, but not without a barrier between them, so to say," Palko said.
Palko said the department is definitely adapting to changing times due to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, she said, police are now performing roll call from their squad cars to help aid in social distancing efforts.
"But we still have a job to do, so we're not going to stray away," Palko said.
Palko said Montgomery police are trying to get compliance from residents for the stay-at-home order and have ramped up education efforts on the importance of that compliance. She said the police department also started a social distancing challenge on their Facebook page previously focused on high schoolers and middle schoolers and will be focused to third, fourth and fifth graders.
Palko said it's important for residents to adhere to the order and to teach their kids why it's important to adhere to the order. She said people should not have to live in fear, but they just have to live by the rules in place for now.
"And if we don't establish to children why it's important to do this now, we're going to be doing [social distancing and living under a stay-at-home order] for much longer," Palko said.