Police Departments Make Changes To Keep Officers From Contracting COVID-19

Bernie Tafoya
March 23, 2020 - 10:10 am
Police Department

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Police departments in the Chicago area are making some procedural changes to try to keep officers and their families from contracting COVID-19.

Many police departments are asking people to file less-serious complaints over-the-phone. And, according to Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner, when officers do respond to a call, "We definitely reiterate the 6-foot rule. Every time they’re talking to someone, we’re having people step out of their homes so we can speak with them outside in the open air and then, if they come into contact with someone with it, we have given them personal protective equipment."

In Park Forest, Police Chief Christopher Mannino said officers have personal protective equipment and sanitize the passenger compartments of their squads after each time they transport someone.

Officers are also not allowed to wear their uniforms home to keep from contaminating their families. 

"We do have a washer and dryer here, as well, that officers can use, and if not, they have been instructed to take their uniforms home in a plastic bag," Chief Mannino said. 

Officers who have any symptoms are discouraged from coming to work. 

"Police officers can sometimes tend to be a little bit stoic and want to work through anything, but we're trying to reaffirm that if you have any kind of symptoms, you should stay home," he said.

"We have obtained a thermometer so that any time anybody might feel unwell, we can check that temperature and anyone who has a fever would be sent home."

Also, in south suburban Park Forest, Chief Mannino said there’s less personal interaction between officers and the public with a focus on preventing more serious crimes and making traffic stops for violations that make roads unsafe.

Both Park Forest Chief Mannino and Joliet Chief Roechner said there have been fewer calls to police since the coronavirus pandemic ramped up in Illinois. Chief Mannino said the pandemic has "really impacted our operations in quite a palpable way."