I received numerous calls today about concerns officers have about personal safety in light of the COVID-19 threat. I heard from officers worried about responding to some calls for service. I heard from officers who were concerned about responding to calls for service at some locations. I also heard concerns about personal protection equipment and the purchase and distribution of that equipment. The gist of the calls was that officers want to make sure someone is looking out for them.
First of all, the FOP is engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the administration regarding the safety of FOP members. Making a job that is inherently dangerous as safe as possible is one of the core missions of the FOP. Furthermore, it is important that officers who are not sick report to work as scheduled. Officers who are sick should stay home.
I am available by telephone, text, and email. The FOP will not stop working on behalf of its members.
RESPONSE TO NON-EMERGENCY CALLS FOR SERVICE
The NOPD is set to increase the calls handled by telephone. On March 20 or 21, there should be a decrease in calls for service that have to be handled face to face. With more calls for service being handled by telephone, the risk of exposure should be lower. However, there are calls that require an officer’s physical presence.
If you have to be physically present on a scene, then you have to try to maintain a distance of 6 feet from other people. Try to avoid going in the homes of callers, if possible. Try to limit the number of people you are in contact with. When you are done, go find a place to wash your hands and try to avoid touching your face.
PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT
The NOPD generally did not have the type of equipment everyone is looking for right now. EMS gave some masks and gloves to the NOPD, but those don’t go very far once you hand them out. The next thing you know, you have to submit a 105 to get one more glove.
The FOP bought 1000 2 oz. bottles of hand sanitizer. I brought a case to the 8th District and the 4th District. We distributed the rest at the MAXX meeting on March 4. Unfortunately, not everyone got one. We tried to buy 1000 more bottles, but they were unavailable by then.
That is the bottom line. These items are hard to come by. The FOP ordered 4000 surgical procedure masks and 7400 gloves in different sizes. The shipping on that order was delayed from the beginning and, now, the delivery of these items is uncertain at best. I know the FOP and the NOPD continue to look for these types of supplies.
There are some locations with a higher rate of virus transmission than others. The Orleans Parish Communications District (OPCD) has locations like that flagged and officers won’t be dispatched to those locations unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, there will be equipment available for responding officers.
The FOP is always looking out for its members. We do our best to improve the safety of our members’ working conditions however we can. We will continue to discuss these issues. Please let us know about things that need to be addressed.