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How Rockford Police protects officers, community during COVID-19

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -- Rockford Police are tasked with keeping the community and themselves safe in the middle of a pandemic.

"COVID-19 has brought so many challenges for so many agencies," said Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea via Facetime.

He says officers are disinfecting cars between shifts, and are now wearing masks, gloves and goggles on every call. The staff that can work from home has been working from home for about a month. He says officers now carry sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer.

Officers try to maintain the CDC guided six feet of social distancing, but Chief O'Shea acknowledges that isn't always easy as a police officer.

"Just trying to, again, minimize our contact with the public. As well as keep the public safe too, should one of our officers be a carrier or be affected," he added.

One of his officers did test positive for COVID-19 last week, police say that officer is self-isolating at home and doing well.

"We are monitoring our officers' health, including taking their temperatures at the beginning of all of their shifts," Mayor Tom McNamara said in a Monday afternoon press conference about COVID-19.

"For us to disengage the public, I will tell you, for me especially is very difficult," Chief O'Shea said. "Because we are all about engaging with the public prior to about a month ago."

When possible, officers are also taking reports from people outdoors, instead of going into their homes.

Chief O'Shea says calls for service are down in the last three weeks. Shootings have seen a slight uptick and domestic violence calls are up about 2%. Officers do still deal with a high call volume, about 235 calls per day, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The end game is to keep the officers safe and their families safe and keep the public safe," said Chief O'Shea.

James Stratton

James Stratton is the Evening Anchor at 13 WREX and reports for 13 Investigates He joined the team in August, 2018 after working at KWQC TV-6 in Davenport Iowa. His work in Illinois and Iowa has been awarded in both states, along with Edward R. Murrow and Emmy Awards at 13 WREX.

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