Police take measures to protect the public’s health and their own

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MONROE, CT — Town police officers are wearing masks and a cleaning service sanitizes the police station and vehicles to keep them healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Chief John Salvatore told the Police Commission one officer, who had symptoms, tested negative for the virus. But because tests are not always reliable, a doctor treated the officer as if it was a positive result.

“Other than that, we’ve been very fortunate,” Salvatore said during the virtual commission meeting. “It’s remarkable that we’ve actually had pretty good health with our staff. Our officers have been very careful of their own health and their co-workers. It’s been a real unified effort and I think it’s paid off.”

David Geismar, a commissioner, mentioned seeing a newspaper article on how heat is used to kill the virus inside the Ford Explorers police use.

Captain Keith White said he also read the story.

“It’s an interesting concept,” White said, adding an outside company comes in and sanitizes police vehicles and the locker room.

He said a Clorox-like substance used in the cars does not damage the sensitive computer equipment and camera systems inside.

“If we feel there could have been exposure, we have them come back and do the fleet again,” White said.

Salvatore said the department uses its regular cleaning service for this, adding it is for a reasonable price. White said Federal Emergency Management Agency grants can reimburse towns for 75 percent of Covid-19 related costs.

White said prisoners have been in the building, though no one showed symptoms.  During booking, officers wear N95 masks and the prisoners also wear a mask. Officers also wear N95 masks on medical calls for patients with Covid-19 symptoms, according to Salvatore.

At other times, police wear surgical masks.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate,” White said. “We have a good supply of PPE for the town.”

Emergency Management provides the equipment, according to White, who is also the town’s deputy emergency management director.

In addition to masks and gloves, police have sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer. White said officers take good care of their vehicles and are considerate of the health of their fellow officers.

Daniel Hunsberger, secretary of the Board of Police Commissioners, asked Salvatore to let his officers know how board members appreciate all they do for the town.

The chief said police have received a lot of community support, adding local restaurants have often prepared lunches for officers. “It’s nice how people showed their appreciation,” Salvatore said.

“If there is some way to recognize those restaurants who made those donations, it would be nice,” said Chairman Michael Vitello.

White said police always thank restaurants on their Facebook page, but Salvatore said he could prepare a list of businesses for the commission to do something more formal.

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