Detroit police soldier on, despite COVID-19 outbreak

(DETROIT) — At a community event in Detroit earlier this month in which a number of Detroit Police Department officers were present, the moderator of that event later tested positive for COVID-19.

Although it isn’t certain, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said of members of the department getting the virus from that event — it is certainly cause for concern.

“I don’t think anybody can definitively say how,” Craig told ABC News.

DPD has had two deaths since the start of the global pandemic and the disease hits close to Craig — he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The chief is working and leading the department from at home and said police chiefs “aren’t invincible” and that they have to have a plan when they are down for the count.

The department, which operates in the most populous city in the state that has the third most COVID-19 cases in the country, has a total of over 500 officers quarantined and 114 civilians and officers test positive for the virus.

“The department has taken a very aggressive posture and keeping its members safe. Early on, when we started quarantining some of the officers, some might have thought that maybe we’re a little bit over the top,” Craig said. “I’ve always believed that we’re doing the right thing and trying to keep our members safe. And doing so meant that we can’t change the number of officers.”

In order to put up with the triage of losing officers to testing positive for the virus or the mass number of officers quarantined, Craig deployed some of the department’s specialized units to the hardest hit precincts.

Craig told ABC News that response times have been lower across the city, but that doesn’t mean policing doesn’t stop because the department has been hit hard by the virus.

“We haven’t seen a disruption in service, but the idea is quickly responding instead of waiting,” Craig said.

He said the city has acquired a rapid COVD-19 test for first responders, so that way they can quickly test and get officers back into service.

Craig said in addition to losing an officer, they’ve also lost a dispatcher, to COVID-19 — and fortunately, when that dispatcher got sick, the department had a plan for the rest of the dispatch staff.

“When we had the one 9-1-1 call taker become ill, it impacted our entire call center. So much so that we had to shut it down. And the good news was that we had a fallback location that we put in operation while we. Began to do very surgical cleaning of the place to get it back operational again. But the idea of having a backup center plus has shown its value,” he said.

Craig said his men and women who are quarantined are wanting to come back to work and are wanting to serve the community.

“Despite the numbers that have been quarantined in numbers that have tested positive. Police officers are courageous. They’re resilient,” he said. “Many of those have been quarantined or eager to get back to work, support their colleagues. And so really, that’s a testament to the kind of police officer we recognize. And I’m not saying it’s unique to Detroit because this is happening all across America. But these young men and women, these American police officers, despite this unknown enemy, are still going out and keeping our city safe, despite not knowing that they’re confronting.”

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