Fresno police officers don’t always have a choice when it comes to social distancing.
On any given day, 3% of the department’s employees are out due to the pandemic. Whether they have the virus themselves or have been in contact with someone that has, they are sidelined.
In an instant, an officer may have to arrest a suspect before they can get a mask or face shield on.
Forget about asking questions related to whether the person has traveled or been in contact with a person positive for COVID-19.
“Our job starts at six feet and goes in sometimes,” says Fresno Police Sgt. Jeff LaBlue, who is the department spokesman.
“Our job starts at six feet and goes in sometimes.” — Fresno Police Sgt. Jeff LaBlue
A total of 1,036 employees work at the Fresno Police Department. Since the pandemic began, 68 of them in total have been tested for COVID-19. The Department wouldn’t comment on the number of those that have come back positive.
There are about 800 sworn officers. 55 of those officers have been tested for COVID-19. The Department also wouldn’t comment on the number of those that have come back positive.
“We’re lucky that we haven’t seen a bigger number,” said LaBlue. “But, it can take a small number (of cases) to put us in a spin in certain areas.”
LaBlue is referencing things like special tactical units, vice units, and dispatch. Some of those teams are only made up of a handful of members. If anyone on the team has to quarantine, it would mean the whole team might need to quarantine.
According to KMPH-TV, an 18-year-old man accused of auto theft was brought into the Fresno County Jail by Fresno police on Friday, April 10. The suspect tested positive for coronavirus after coming into contact with five police officers. The officers went into quarantine for 14 days.
Officers are supposed to have on a face shield when they handle calls. But it’s understood if an officer doesn’t have time to put the shield on as things can change rapidly out on the streets.
Every patrol car is now equipped with two medical rated masks. Officers are all issued hand sanitizer and gloves.
Fresno Police Patrol Car Cleaning
“The cars are wiped down every day,” LaBlue said.
Some city employees don’t have jobs that allow them to work from home. The city has allowed them to come in and help keep the patrol vehicles sanitized.
Not only are the cars cleaned at the end of a shift, but throughout the day as much as possible.
Eleven Huntington Beach Police Department officers and one civilian employee have tested positive for COVID-19 while 25 more workers have been quarantined for exposure to the virus since late June, the Orange County Register reported.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Police Department lost its first sworn officer to the coronavirus. Valentin “Val” Martinez, 45, died from complications tied to COVID-19, department and union officials said. LAPD officials did not say how the officer might have become exposed to the virus.
A soon-to-be father, a partner, a brother, a son. As courageous in his fight against COVID as he was patrolling the streets and serving Angelenos.
Officer Valentin “Val” Martinez, Serial #38701, you are End of Watch Sir. Rest In Peace. https://t.co/PARzf3c7nC
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 24, 2020
On Sunday, LAPD Chief Michael Moore tweeted about another tragedy.
This has been a trying week for our LA Public Safety family.
— Chief Michel Moore (@LAPDChiefMoore) July 26, 2020