Local Police Departments Make Changes During COVID-19 Pandemic
Police departments across the metro are restructuring the way they do things. The changes are not only meant to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19, but to protect fellow officers.
Most officers have switched to 12-hour shifts for a certain amount of days. They have 10 days off before their next rotation. Such is the case in Golden Valley.
“We do this so that they can have this incubation period,” said Golden Valley Police Chief Jason Sturgis. “We have set teams of officers. So one sergeant and two patrol officers, for example, they’ll work together all the time. That way we’re avoiding cross contamination by having different officers coming at different times.”
Cmdr. Garett Flesland with the Brooklyn Center Police Department said they’ve temporarily assigned officers different duties to keep as many officers socially distanced and out of the building as possible.
“We have our street crime units, which is one sergeant and three officers. We temporarily assigned them to patrol duty,” Flesland said. “We also have our school resource officer. Now that school’s not in session, we put him in patrol.”
If an officer or a team gets sick or exposed to COVID-19, backup officers will fill in, police officials told CCX News. This will help keep a sufficient number of officers on duty.
Officers Required to Wear Personal Protective Equipment
In Golden Valley, officers are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) if they absolutely need to be in close contact with a person.
“For non-emergency report calls, we’ll either have a phone report or if we have to go to their home for whatever reason, we can pre-set up not having to have face-to-face conversations or at least be able to maintain social distancing,” said Sturgis.
Sturgis said by only taking non-emergency reports virtually, they can screen out about 80 percent of what they do. The police station also has a laundry station so officers aren’t wearing their uniforms before and after work.
Brooklyn Park Police Deputy Chief Mark Bruley told CCX News that his department implemented a disinfecting station.
“Every time an officer comes in, the squad cars have been disinfected and they will use if for their shift. When they’re done with their shift, they’ll return it and it’ll get disinfected,” Bruley explained.
Outreach Programs Temporarily Halted Due to COVID-19
In New Hope, like in other cities, outreach programs have temporarily stopped because of COVID-19 restrictions. The change allows officers to remain focused on being available for emergencies.
“We’re getting our officers visible out there. We’re looking forward to planning to when we can get all our operations back to normal as I’m sure everybody is,” said Capt. Scott Slawson with the New Hope Police Department.
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