Keep your lines of communication open
Labor/Management relations vary from exceptionally good to terribly bad. One thing to remember is that in times of crisis the law enforcement community historically bands together. Be prepared to set aside minor disagreements to ensure that your members receive all the protections necessary in this time of crisis.
Work with your governmental bodies to ensure that they understand what you are facing during this pandemic. Don’t assume that they understand that you understand their directives. Question, question, question. Demand clear and concise polices to ensure there is no miscommunication. Agree that in this fluid environment, things will change on short notice. All the more reason for clear, concise policies that are time and date stamped.
Encourage health care providers to provide your 911 centers with COVID-19 positive cases in your community of service. For those reluctant to provide this information, refer them to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights document COVID-19 and HIPAA: Disclosures to law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders and public health authorities.
Properly communicate to the public policies and procedures that are in place and how law enforcement will respond to emergency and non-emergency situations. Keep community partners and stakeholders fully informed so that they can amplify your public communications.
Consider alternate means of providing service
Implement a telephone reporting operation to address reporting requirements for low level incidents. If you have a telephone reporting unit, enhance its use by allowing less-essential personnel working from home to take reports. Quarantined personnel who are asymptomatic can be a great asset, either taking reports from home or following up on open cases.
Practice distance policing
Overlook minor traffic violations to avoid person-to-person contact. Utilize public address systems where appropriate. Remember that a wave has replaced a handshake. Avoid direct contact with individuals who may have COVID-19 until you have the appropriate PPE if at all possible. Follow CDC protection recommendations where practical. Maintain a distance of at least six feet to provide protection from transmission of COVID-19. Implement Remote Roll Calls to avoid clustering of personnel. Where weather permits, move roll calls outside and practice. Utilize technology to replace face-to-face communications. If you feel sick — you are! Remove yourself from the workforce, avoid family and friends, self quarantine and seek medical evaluation.
Implement creative scheduling
Many jurisdictions are converting to 12-hour shifts to avoid cross-contamination in the workforce. Several departments are implementing platoon concepts, keeping the same officers and supervisors always working together, because of the same cross-contamination fears. Workforces are being split where half the force stays home, while the other half works. As officers fall sick, reserves from home are called upon. Extended work schedules, such as 14 days in a row, are being implemented to allow for illness and quarantines. Remind command staff that any alteration in scheduling should be discussed with employee representative groups to ensure smooth transitions and to get the best ideas from the field!
With schools and day care facilities closed, several jurisdictions are finding that law enforcement families with stay-home spouses are volunteering to perform day care functions and other related babysitting duties to lessen the burden upon those mandated to work. CDC guidelines on caring for children should always be practiced.
Consider alternate housing for quarantined officers. Sometimes it is impracticable to self-quarantine when household members are in at-risk categories (e.g., family members who are elderly or whose immune systems are already compromised). Many jurisdictions are reserving hotel space for their quarantined.
Don’t forget to check in on the needs of family members whose loved ones are sick or hospitalized.
Retirees to the rescue!
Recently retired health care workers and law enforcement officers are being asked to return to duty to augment a depleting workforce. Many jurisdictions are lifting restrictions on recently retired personnel from re-entering the workforce. As this epidemic subsides, recovery will be slow. Don’t overlook our valuable retiree resource for volunteer opportunities!
Continue your involvement in the legislative process
Many states are enacting Presumptive Illness Orders in relation to COVID-19. Network with your contemporaries on this and other employee rights issues. Remind those in power that we are on the front lines of this fight.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Every major law enforcement organization is compiling resources to combat COVID-19. Several of the links below can provide you with valuable information:
COVID-19 Library of Resources
- Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (CDC)
- COVID-19 Library of Resources (IACP)
- Law Enforcement Officer Sickness with COVID-19 (CRI-TAC)
- Law Enforcement Officer Exposure to COVID-19 (CRI-TAC)
Sponsored by the Collaborative Resource Initiative – Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC)
- Law Enforcement and Correctional Facilities (CDC)
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Burn Calculator – A spreadsheet-based model that will help healthcare facilities plan and optimize the use of PPE (CDC)
- Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators (CDC)
- Understanding the difference between a face mask and a respirator (CDC & FDA)
- Training videos related to respiratory protection (OSHA)
- How to Perform a User Seal Check with an N95 Respirator (OSHA)
- Police Academy Status (IADLEST)
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- COVID-19 Resources for Law Enforcement (National Police Foundation)
- Law Enforcement Resources and Support (FBINAA)
- National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA)
- Workplace Issues (U.S. Department of Labor)
- Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program Solicitation FY 2020 Formula Grant Solicitation
- Consider the Use of Drones in Public Service Announcements
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)/U.S. Fire Administration – Updated 2020
- Federal Bureau of Investigations – Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF)
- To Report a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19
- Hotline at 866-720-5721
- Email at email@example.com