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Baltimore Police order additional supplies, provide guidance to protect officers against the coronavirus

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison talks about the preparations of the police department as well as steps to take to avoid getting COVID-19.

Baltimore Police are ordering additional personal protective equipment for officers to use while responding to calls involving people who potentially have the coronavirus.

“We’ve inventoried our personal protective equipment and have ordered additional supplies in order to have sufficient quantities available for all our members,” Michael Sullivan, deputy commissioner of operations, wrote in a memo dated Tuesday and obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

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The memo did not detail what personal protective equipment was being ordered by the department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that law enforcement officers have access to a single pair of gloves, a “disposable isolation gown,” a particulate respirator, and eye protection, such as goggles or a disposable face shield.

The two-page memo also included protocols officers should follow when responding to calls involving potentially infected patients.

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Baltimore’s 911 operators will question callers to screen for any potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, the memo said.

“In the event the caller meets the criteria, the dispatcher will notify responding personnel over the radio to ‘use universal precautions,’" it said.

Police officers responding to such calls should, “if feasible, please wait for EMS personnel to arrive on-scene and be guided by EMS,” the memo said.

EMS personnel are then expected to apply a mask to the patient to limit the dispersal of respiratory droplets.

EMS personnel should “assess and transport anyone you think might have COVID-19 to a healthcare facility,” the memo said.

Additionally, Sullivan said custodial staff at all department facilities would continually check the hand sanitizer and soap dispensers to ensure they are filled.

Officers are being asked to regularly clean and disinfect equipment, such as their duty belt, and to disinfect steering wheels, door handles of patrol vehicles.

Commissioner Michael Harrison said in a department-issued video that he has been in touch with Seattle’s police chief since the city in the state of Washington is “considered ground zero for COVID-19." He also said he has been talking with other police department leaders across the country to ensure the department is using best practices to minimize exposure.

“Keeping every member of our department safe and knowledgeable of operating procedure remains my highest priority,” Harrison said.

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