PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Portland Police Bureau announced Friday they implemented a new screening process Wednesday for employees when they arrive at work: temperature checks, to make sure members aren’t unknowingly spreading COVID-19.
PPB Chief Jami Resch also said in a press conference they’re starting to see calls for service trend back up to what they would consider a normal level.
Shootings are up 25% from this time last year. Calls for burglaries, vandalism, and disturbances are also up, as well as domestic violence arrests and traffic warnings and citations.
Speeding is still an issue. The chief said between April. 12 and 25, officers cited 17 people for speeding over 100 mph. As one might expect, DUII arrests have declined. Meanwhile, Resch says suicide calls did not continue to increase as they did earlier this year; Instead, they remained average.
Looking forward, the chief says she’ll proceed cautiously when it comes to phasing out the use of PPE amongst her officers.
“I don’t want to say that it’s beginning to feel normal, but I think people are just becoming, I guess, more comfortable with certain things that we’re having to do right now to protect ourselves,” Resch said. “So, our plan will be that PPB members continue to wear their PPE equipment for quite a while.”
So far, she says they’re not aware of any members who have tested positive, and sick rates are about the same level they’d normally see this time of year.
In the press conference, Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Marshal AJ Jackson reminded people to check out the website C19oregon.com, a free online health assessment to symptom-check yourself for COVID-19.
She also highlighted their Meds on Wheels program, a prescription pick-up and delivery service.
Portland 911 Bureau of Emergency Communications’ Director Bob Cozzi detailed how the pandemic has impacted their operations.
Typically, those employees would be sitting next to each other at call stations, and rotating every two hours between positions to prevent burn out from answering 911 calls. But during the health crisis, call takers are wearing masks, spaced at least six feet apart, and only switching once between each shift, something that’s likely to take a toll.
“You put yourself in the position of being a call taker, for example," Cozzi said. "You’re talking to people on the worst day of their lives, and that’s a lot of responsibility for a call taker and that’s a lot of pressure."
Cozzi says employees tasked with answering 911 calls can switch out if they need to. There is also a peer team available in the 911 center to talk to. Cozzi says, though, employees were willing to work those call-taking positions if it meant staying healthy at work.
They’re waiting for guidance to determine when they can step back from the safety measures they’ve implemented, and Cozzi says they’ll get back to the normal two-hour rotation as soon as they can.
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