The San Jose Police Department, along with other local police departments, is on the front lines helping to keep the community safe against the coronavirus, while keeping officers and other department members healthy.
As the coronavirus multiplies in communities throughout the United States, police departments have the added responsibility of assuring that their agency members, and the community, are protected from the virus, and one is even in a position to share personal protective equipment with local hospitals.
Three police officers on the Santa Rosa, Calif., Police department and a Sonoma County, Calif., Sheriff’s deputy had tested positive earlier this week and two San Jose Police Department officers had tested positive as of Wednesday.
The three Santa Rosa Officers had minimal or no contact with the public. The San Jose officers are at home and being provided for through the department.
Lt. Todd Trayer, who runs the command center for the San Jose PD, said the department is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines when dealing with anyone in the department who may have symptoms, and when dealing with the public and jailed persons.
“Say an officer takes someone to jail and that [jailed person] tests positive for coronavirus, which just happened, then we do everything we can to make sure we give those officers enough time to be asymptomatic and come back to work,” Trayer said. “In the command center right now, we’re keeping things moving and taking care of our cops and department members the best way we can.”
Trayer said there are protocols to make things unilaterally the same for everyone in the department. He said there are gray areas, and in such cases the department will always err on the side of caution.
The Santa Rosa PD made numerous changes to department protocol to limit the risk of the coronavirus generating among department personnel and into the community, Police Chief Ray Navarro said at a news briefing earlier this week.
Those changes include eliminating in-person responses to certain crimes and minor incidents, such as noninjury vehicle accidents and petty thefts, according to a report in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Trayer said the San Jose PD has gotten many calls for people congregating and about 50 for businesses being open when they are supposed to be closed. “We’ve been very transparent and have had a team of officers checking on businesses,” he said. The businesses get a warning. “We work with them to close,” Trayer said. “Chief [Eddie Garcia] really uses his voice in telling the public that they are endangering the community.”
The San Jose PD has been the beneficiary of someone with foresight, who ordered a surplus of N95 masks during and after the H1N1 crisis in 2009. The department has stockpiled those and has enough on hand for its officers and is sharing with the local hospitals.
“We have enough to share with our fellow first responders at the local hospitals. I hope and pray that the pandemic dies down in the next week or two and that the supplies are adequate,” Trayer said. “We’re in a good place right now compared to a lot of other places.”