As workers performing an essential service, Winnipeg’s police officers are regularly interacting with the public during the coronavirus pandemic — putting them at greater risk.
According to the president of the Winnipeg Police Association, however, both the Winnipeg Police Service — as well as the individual officers themselves — have been proactive in staying safe, resulting in no known infected members of the police service to date.
“The service has actually been very good for providing the appropriate personal protection equipment,” Moe Sabourin told 680 CJOB.
“They’ve gone to great lengths to notify the membership of having good hygiene, washing your hands, wiping your cruiser car inside…
“It’s a very unprecedented situation that we’re facing. Even the members are going to the lengths of becoming a little bit creative when they have to take reports from people: rather than going into their residences, they’re asking the public to come outside so that you can abide by the social distancing in an open-air atmosphere to lessen the chances of becoming infected.”
Sabourin said while no police employees have tested positive for COVID-19, the unfortunate reality is that some members will likely become sick with the virus.
“We want to be out there for the public… we have to be out there for the public,” he said.
“…Whatever the public can do to lessen the chance of our members becoming infected is much appreciated.”
Sabourin said there are a number of police service members who are currently under 14-day quarantine, but that’s due to recently returning from international travel, and those officers will be able to come back to work in the near future.
Manitoba RCMP are also taking increased health and safety precautions.
“We’ve changed a lot of things in terms of just trying to keep our people safe,” assistant commissioner Jane MacLatchy told 680 CJOB on the weekend.
“I’m very conscious of the fact that for us to deliver policing services to Manitobans — and to continue to do that, because that’s our commitment — is I’ve got to keep my officers healthy and safe.”
MacLatchy said non-essential staff are working from home if they can, and that the public is being urged not to physically come to RCMP detachments. Frontline officers will also use masks and other protective equipment as necessary.
Despite those changes, MacLatchy said nothing has changed as far as the Manitoba RCMP’s commitment to investigating crimes.
“We will be there. Absolutely, we’ll be responding to calls and investigating criminal activity in the province. That won’t change.”
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