Webster Police Adjust Patrols on Roadways Due to Less Traffic

The police department in Worcester County says they have been reducing enforcement due to a 50-60% decrease in traffic

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With fewer people on the roads due to being at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, some Massachusetts communities are scaling back their police patrols and reallocating their resources.

In Webster, police are making a lot of changes to protect their officers including reducing enforcement due to traffic being down 50-60%.

"We are still making some traffic stops, but we aren't making as many as we were," Webster Police Chief Michael Shaw said Monday.

With fewer vehicles on the road, police have temporarily eliminated grant-funded "Click It or Ticket" shifts, moving a traffic enforcement officer to patrols.

"If we have to arrest somebody, we absolutely do that, but officers are summoning more people into court, which just means they'll appear at a later time," Shaw explained.

This is also helping ease a new burden on the department that has had them doing arraignments in house due to courts being closed amid the pandemic.

"It's changed a lot of the way that we do things, but we still are enforcing the law and have a presence out there," Shaw said.

Police are handling some calls over the phone, cleaning cruisers weekly and sanitizing the department constantly.

Shaw says crime has remained steady throughout the pandemic — at levels similar to last year at this time — but he believes the adjustments they've made are why none of the officers have tested positive for coronavirus.

"We were afraid that if one person came back with a positive case of coronavirus that it could go through this building and it would cripple our workforce," Shaw said. "So that was our number one priority and why we took the measures that we took."

Once the traffic increases to normal levels again, Shaw said regular police patrols will resume.

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