Jersey City police officers infected

Police department establishes new procedures to protect officers from virus

Local officials discussed new measures the Jersey City Police Department was taking to ensure officers are protected from COVID-19 after two officers tested positive. Photo by Jen Brown.
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Local officials discussed new measures the Jersey City Police Department was taking to ensure officers are protected from COVID-19 after two officers tested positive. Photo by Jen Brown.

Two Jersey City police officers are currently in serious condition at Jersey City Medical Center, while 42 officers are out with symptoms, and 16 are quarantined. Despite their absences, public safety officials say the Police Department is fully staffed and fully operational.

“The public safety posture in Jersey City remains unchanged,” said Public Safety Director James Shea. “Our police department is running with the same personnel numbers as before, and answering every single call. Some changes we have made do not affect anyone’s safety, but does affect our ability to keep our first responders safe and healthy.”

According to Police Chief Michal Kelly, several new policies and safety measures have been implemented to ensure officers are protected while they do their jobs.

According to Kelly, roll call is no longer done in the district and officers are coming into their shifts at 10-minute intervals.

Director Shea added that face-to-face officer reliefs are now being done over the phone.

Two officers are also no longer riding in each police vehicle and instead, officers are assigned one to each vehicle with each vehicle is working in tandem in a two-car convoy responding to calls.

All four districts are also being deep cleaned twice a week, in conjunction with regular aerosol cleaning and deep cleaning of police vehicles and other equipment.

Kelly also said each officer also has personal protective equipment including, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and overalls.

According to the city, the department is also bringing back the Telephone Reporting Unit, TRU.

The unit consists of a small group of officers who handle nonviolent and nonemergency calls over the phone to generate police reports, freeing up dozens of officers around the clock for street patrol and emergency calls.

Kelly said that residents who request a police officer’s presence will still get an officer.

“If a citizen wants us, we’ll be there, just like we would any other day,” said Kelly.

For all non-emergency and nonviolent calls for police service, residents should call (201) 547-5477. An officer will generate an official report that will be made available to the resident within five days.

“Our police officers, who have remained steadfast in their duties during this entire crisis, will now have their operations more streamlined to respond to emergencies, while non-urgent calls are facilitated accordingly,” said Mayor Fulop.  “Like most cities, we’ve seen an influx of 911 calls as people understandably have a heightened sense of fear and uncertainty amid this pandemic.  This police line will free up our officers for better emergency response and ultimately to enhance the safety of our community overall.”

Since March 1, 24 police officers who were showing signs of symptoms have since been cleared to return to work following strict CDC guidelines and the Jersey City Health Department.

As for the Jersey City Fire Department, firehouses are closed to the public.

“Firefighters are practicing social distancing as best they can while they live together inside their firehouses for 24-hour shifts,” said JCFD Chief Steve McGill.  “We too will continue to maintain adequate staffing and emergency response service communitywide.”

He noted that no firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 but two were in self-quarantine and would return to work soon.

“There’s no question we’re seeing an impact on our first responders as they remain dedicated to their work to keep our community safe, especially during this crisis,” said Mayor Steven Fulop.  “This pandemic impacts all parts of life in the city, and our Public Safety Department is no different.  We’re expanding safety protocols specifically to address the environments our police and fire personnel are exposed to for the overall health and safety of our community.”

Fulop said the city will be spending between $750,000 to $1 million a week because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He noted all city directors, are working to amend their budgets.

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.