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Coronavirus: Calgary police upping patrols, preparing for possible officer sickness

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While Calgary police say there has been no change in call volumes or crime in the city since the novel coronavirus outbreak reached Alberta, officers will be stepping up patrols on the streets.

Calgary Police Service Supt. Steve Barlow said on Wednesday that, as a way to support local businesses, which now have empty storefronts and restaurants, more officers will be checking in to make sure they aren’t being targeted by criminals.

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“Our officers will be doing more patrolling but we do have some posters and information going out to businesses that are going to be closed up and that’s something that will stay on our radar to be looking after those businesses,” he said.

Officers responding to calls

For police officers, their car is the workplace, Barlow said, which means taking extra precautions to ensure their personal safety when responding to calls.

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Barlow said officers already have personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns if they need it, but they’re also being advised to keep their “work space” as clean as possible.

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“We have been giving them guidance and the equipment to be cleaning their work space — as I always call it — at the beginning of their shift and after they’ve had people in their vehicles,” he said.

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“We’re also telling them to make the proper decisions, ask the right questions, put enough space between them and the people that they’re dealing with.”

Barlow said the CPS has a staff sergeant that sits in the Calgary Emergency Management Agency operations so they have regular communication with officials about what the service needs. He said the support the force has been getting from all levels of government has been adequate.

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“There is nothing that I have seen that would say that we’re not getting the support we require.”

‘Preparing for worst-case scenario’

Barlow also said they’ve been preparing for the possibility that officers could get sick as the novel coronavirus continues to spread — which is nothing new for the force.

“We had to do that for the floods, we looked at it when we were sending officers up to Fort McMurray for the fires and we are planning for it right now,” Barlow said.

“So far we are in very good shape and our districts are looking after the staffing, but we are planning for, unfortunately, worst-case scenario of required.”

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Barlow said there have been no confirmed cases within the CPS but several officers have been tested and are in self-isolation.

Front counter changes

Barlow said some citizens can expect to see changes to some of the operational procedures the police service does.

On Thursday, Calgary police said anyone who visits a CPS district office will be required to call first. District office phone numbers will be posted on the door and are available online at calgarypolice.ca. Officers will be available to answer questions, take reports for some offences and provide direction on next steps, the CPS said in a media release.

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The service’s online reporting system will also be enhanced, and Police Information Checks are being deferred to the online application process that can be found on the CPS website.

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Barlow said the CPS hasn’t seen an increase in COVID-19-related calls.

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