Southwick Senior Center, police and fire departments make changes due to COVID-19


SOUTHWICK- Departments and agencies in the Town of Southwick have begun making preparations and adjustments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Southwick Police Chief Kevin A. Bishop March 16 made a post online advising residents of new policies that aim to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. While the police will continue to respond to 911 emergencies as normal, citizens are asked to not come to the lobby of the police department to avoid the spread.

We will be temporarily allowing our Officers to take reports over the phone for any issue or incident that we feel would not require a visit to your home. Some examples could be: Neighbor disputes/civil matters, calls for advice, credit card/ identity theft, found property,” stated Bishop. “If you have a situation that can be resolved over the phone by speaking with a police officer, please call our business line at 413-569-5348 ext. 0 Please continue to use 911 for all emergencies and medical calls.”

In addition, the department will also only be accepting renewals of firearms license by mail until further notice. No appointments for new firearms licenses will be made at this time. 

The Southwick Animal Shelter will also be closed to the public. Bishop said that if one’s animal has been impounded, they should call the shelter at 413-569-5348 extension 649.

“All these precautions are being taken to protect our dispatchers, civilian employees and police officers so that we can continue to proudly serve you,” said Bishop, “Thank you for your understanding in these matters. Stay safe and know that as a community you are all in my thoughts and prayers.”

The Southwick Fire Department enacted similar measures to combat the spread of the virus. In a Facebook post, the Fire Department announced that burn permits would be issued at the dispatcher window of the police department. 

For now, the fire department will not be collecting sharps containers, and residents are advised to hold on to them until the program can be restarted in the future. 

No visitors are allowed in the fire station as the virus continues to spread. For inspection services, Fire Chief Russ Andersont is encouraging phone coordination if possible. If that is not possible, the resident can be met in the fire department lobby to review. 

In addition to the police and fire departments, Southwick’s Town Hall will scale back any public events and gatherings, something that Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said was in the works before Gov. Baker announced that gatherings of 10 or more people should not happen. 

“The Board of Health is monitoring this issue every day in terms of outreach,” said Stinehart.

The Southwick Senior Center has also enacted policies to protect some of the most vulnerable populace to the coronavirus. The Senior Center will be closed to congregate meals, but takeout meals will be available for a $3 donation. 

The Center will be closed to the public from March 17 – 27. It is possible for that period to be extended if necessary. 

Although it is tax season, AARP tax assistance at the Southwick Senior Center has been discontinued through the rest of the month. 

“AARP is awaiting official notice regarding the possible extension of the federal and state tax filing deadline,” according to a Council on Aging press release. “Until that decision is made, those scheduled for tax assistance should make other arrangements to file their taxes. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.” 

Medical equipment loans at the Senior Center will still be available, although one is asked to call in advance to ensure the equipment they need is available. 

“If you are struggling to get to the grocery store or pick up your medications please call and we will do our best to assist you. We are here to help you in any way that makes sense. We are in uncharted territory, so please be patient at this time,” said Council on Aging Director Cindy Sullivan in a written statement.

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