ST. LOUIS – At least one St. Louis city officer is fighting COVID-19 while another waits on the test results in the hospital.
The entire traffic division, which staffs about 17 to 19 officers is now under quarantine.
FOX 2 learned what officials are doing to ensure the safety of those who still have the duty to protect and serve in the middle of a public health crisis.
One officer is confirmed to have the deadly virus while another is in the hospital showing symptoms. The two shared an office in police headquarters downtown.
“As a necessary precaution, they quarantined the entire traffic unit,” said Jeff Roorda, Business Manager with the St. Louis Police Officer Association.
The police department put out a statement saying in part:
“Our officers have been issued personal protective equipment, recommended by the CDC. Our citizens can expect to receive the same level of professional service from the men and women of the SLMPD…”
“We’ve been very boisterous with the police department about having more equipment …more protective equipment for the officers,” Roorda said.
Roorda said they are also asking for clear protocols for officers about dealing with the public while they work.
Officers are supposed to mask up and suit up if they have to make close contact with suspects, victims, or witnesses.
Meanwhile, the Ethical Society of Police responded with a statement regarding the direction given to the police department, saying in part:
“Numerous officers in Traffic Safety repeatedly voiced their concerns with the decision of their command with the “business as usual” response. The Command Staff in Traffic Safety ignored officers’ concerns. These officers were concerned for themselves, immediate family, fellow employees, and the public.”
Now, the traffic division is off the streets.
“The likely thing that I expect the department to do is have the patrol districts handle car accidents and be more visible on the highway,” Roorda said.
FOX 2 also reached out to the mayor’s office. They said federal privacy laws prohibit them from commenting on the health status of employees, but the well-being of their employees is extremely important, and they are continuing to follow CDC guidelines.
“It’s tough because we see ourselves as a family…one big blue family,” Roorda said. When one of us is hurt or injured, we are all hurt or injured we’re very concerned about the officers.”
Roorda said the next step is continuing communication with the State of Missouri about prioritizing testing for first responders.
They are working to decentralize the police headquarters to cut down on the spread of the virus.