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'Officers Are Scared Out There'

Nearly 690 officers and civilian employees have tested positive for COVID-19
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 28, 2020 10:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – More than a fifth of Detroit's police force is quarantined; two officers have died from coronavirus and at least 39 have tested positive, including the chief of police. For the 2,200-person department, that has meant officers working doubles and swapping between units to fill patrols. And everyone has their temperature checked before they start work. An increasing number of police departments around the country are watching their ranks get sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the US, the AP reports. The growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection.

"I don't think it's too far to say that officers are scared out there," says the president of Fort Worth Police Officers Association. Nearly 690 officers and civilian employees at police departments and sheriff’s offices around the country have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a survey this week. Anticipating shortages, police academies are accelerating coursework to provide reinforcements. Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer have been distributed. Roll call and staff meetings are happening outside, over the phone, or online. Yet, many are worried it's not enough. This week, groups representing American police and fire chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, and county leaders asked President Trump to use the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to ensure they have enough protective gear.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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