(KMOV.com) - Crime doesn't stop during the coronavirus crisis.

“You swear an oath to protect and serve and you have to protect and serve during a pandemic too,” said Joe Patterson with the St. Louis County police union.

He says officers, like others, are doing what they can to social distance.

“We don't want to be part of the problem and we don't want to get sick,” said Patterson.

Both St. Louis City and St. Louis County police say that for some minor crimes, they'll take reports over the phone.

“If you call an officer to your house for a mundane report, you'd rather not interact with that officer, because he or she is carrying germs and they could be carrying the virus, so some of those lower level reports will be taken over the phone but they still will be handled,” Patterson said.

Under emergency protocols, they may not be ticketing as much either.

“Make no mistake, they are still patrolling, they are still keeping an eye out for crime, but what they are not going to do, it’s not a good use of their time to be sitting in a parking lot with a radar gun,” said Patterson.

But Patterson says crime doesn't stop and neither will officers.

“If it’s a risk to public safety, they are going to act,” said Patterson.

Often in contact with people on calls and arrests, Patterson says it’s possible a number of officers will have to isolate.

In Detroit for example, one officer has died from coronavirus and more than 230 officers are in quarantine.

“God forbid that occurs, but if it does, we do have backup plans,” said Patterson.

Those backup plans include an extended stay hotel for officers to hole up in and a policy that would allow retired officers to come back to the force.

“My only ask to the public would be maybe, behave. let's make those officers have as little work to do as possible,” Patterson.

Law enforcement experts say with so many people staying at home, some types of crime may go down, but other kinds, like domestic violence and child abuse could go up.

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