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Cleveland Police Department adjusts operations to protect officers from coronavirus exposure

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams explained some of the department's new safety procedures.

CLEVELAND — Police officers are among the first responders on the frontline who could face increased risk of being exposed to the coronavirus.

So to lower those risks, the Cleveland Police Department has initiated new procedures to protect all officers.

“About three and a half weeks ago, we went to single-person cars for all of our operations,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said during a press conference hosted by city officials Friday morning.

In doing so, there’s no close contact between any officers as they patrol in their vehicles.

Additionally, anybody an officer puts inside their vehicle is put into a mask prior to sitting inside the cruiser. If a person is showing symptoms of coronavirus and needs to put in the cruiser, officers will wear additional protective gear like masks and gloves.

If officers are working at a scene where somebody is believed to have COVID-19, EMS officials will be called to assist.

“They’re more equipped to do that than frontline police officers,” Chief Williams said.

Last month, Chief Williams also issued a warning to all residents in Cleveland.

“It is a crime in this city to falsely induce a certain type of panic," he said at a March 12 City Council briefing. "People basically saying, ‘Hey, I have the coronavirus,’ without actually having it or having symptoms, it is a crime. It is an arrestable offense and it’s something that we should be cognizant of. It’s something our community members should know is going to waste a lot of valuable resources, and on top of it, get them a criminal charge if they are found not to have that.”

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