The Oregon Police Department is limiting its interactions with the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department will temporarily suspend any tours, ride-alongs and fingerprinting, OPD interim chief Jennifer Pagenkopf said in a statement posted to the department’s Facebook page. Officers might also contact people by phone to offer assistance rather than in person.

“If in-person contact is necessary, our officers may ask that you step out of your residence to speak to lower the risk,” Pagenkopf said in the statement. “Please know this is for your protection as well as our officers.”

She said she has asked department staff to refrain from out-of-state travel until more information from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available.

“We have and will continue constant communication with our partner, the Oregon Area/Fire EMS District, to ensure the safety of our community,” she said.

The first cases of COVID-19 were seen in China in late 2019, and the disease has since spread internationally, affecting around 129,000 people and killing 4,500. The coronavirus family that causes the disease is also responsible for the common cold and respiratory syndromes such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

COVID-19 was deemed a worldwide pandemic on Wednesday by the World Health Organization. The last time WHO declared a pandemic, which is defined as a worldwide spread of a new disease, was H1N1 influenza in 2009.

Email Emilie Heidemann at or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.