Despite COVID-19 losses, quarantines, Detroit police soldier on
Behind the NYPD, DPD has some of the highest quarantine numbers in the country.
At a community event in Detroit in March, where a number of Detroit Police Department officers were present, the moderator of that event later tested positive for COVID-19.
Detroit Police Chief, James Craig, advised that it's uncertain how the disease spread among his members.
"I don't think anybody can definitively say how [this spread]," Craig told ABC News.
The Center for Disease Control has said that the organization is "still learning about how it spreads."
The Detroit Police Department has seen two deaths since the start of the global pandemic and the disease hits close to Craig -- he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Despite contracting COVID-19, the chief is working and leading the department from home and is in contact with his department executives. The chief said police chiefs "aren’t invincible" and that they have to have a plan when they are down for the count.
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The department, which operates in the most populous city in the state, has the third most COVID-19 cases in the country. Over 500 officers are quarantined and 114 civilians and officers tested positive for the virus.
"The department has taken a very aggressive posture toward keeping its members safe. Early on, when we started quarantining some of the officers, some might have thought that maybe we're a little bit over the top," Craig said. "I've always believed that we're doing the right thing and trying to keep our members safe."
In order to put up with the triage of losing officers to testing positive for the virus or the mass number of officers quarantined, Craig deployed some of the department’s specialized units to the hardest hit precincts.
Craig told ABC News despite the impact of COVID-19, the department is serving the community.
"We haven't seen a disruption in service, but the idea is quickly responding instead of waiting," Craig said.
He said the city has acquired a rapid COVID-19 test kit for first responders, which will allow for quicker results, and return officers back into service.
Craig said in addition to losing a homicide captain, the first person the department lost was a dispatcher, to COVID-19.
When that dispatcher became ill, the department had a plan to protect the rest of the dispatch staff.
What to know about the novel coronavirus:
- How it started and how to protect yourself: coronavirus explained
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- Tracking the spread in the US and worldwide: coronavirus map
"When our 911 call taker became ill, it impacted our entire call center. So much so, that we had to shut it down. Fortunately, we had a fallback location that we put in operation while we began to do a very surgical cleaning of the place to get it operational again. But the idea of having a backup call center, has shown its value," he said.
Craig said his men and women who are quarantined want to come back to work and serve the community.
"Despite the number of members that have been quarantined and have tested positive, police officers are courageous. They're resilient," he said. "Many of those who have been quarantined are eager to get back to work and support their colleagues. Really, that's a testament to the kind of police officer we recognize. And I'm not saying it's unique to Detroit because this is happening all across America, but these young men and women, these American police officers, despite this unknown enemy, are still going out and keeping our city safe, despite not knowing what they're confronting."