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Sudbury police aim to minimize risk, while still on the front line during COVID-19

While Sudbury police officers continue to work on the front lines, many of their procedures are looking different, in light of COVID-19.

One employee of the Greater Sudbury Police Service has tested positive for COVID-19, says chief

Sudbury police officers are still working on the front lines, but are aiming to maintain physical distancing as much as possible. (Jan lakes/CBC)

While Sudbury police officers continue to work on the front lines, many of their procedures are looking different, in light of COVID-19.

"To say that, you know, everything has changed is almost a understatement," said Chief of Police Paul Pedersen. 

For weeks now, Pedersen said, officers have no longer been patrolling in pairs. Meetings at the start of shifts are also now done virtually, in an effort to maintain physical distance as much as possible.  

Shift times have also been staggered, and some employees are working from home.

'Risks of the unknown'

While officers try to keep physical distance as much as possible on the job, that isn't always possible, given the nature of the job.

"When you have to arrest somebody, you have to break that social distancing barrier," Pedersen said, as well when pulling over drivers for speeding, or any other number of duties that come with the job. 

Paul Pedersen is the chief of the Greater Sudbury Police Service. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

"The risks to our front line people were always there and still continue to be there, but now the risks include those health risks of the unknown." 

Pedersen said officers have been supplied with personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves. There is also increased cleaning of equipment and facilities. 

One positive case

Pedersen said a number of staff members have been tested for COVID-19, and one person has tested positive — with the test results confirmed in recent days. 

He said the staff member had not been in direct contact with the public, and had not been in the workplace recently. 

While Pedersen said the service has been generally lucky so far when it comes to COVID-19, it is thinking ahead about what will happen if multiple officers need to self isolate — and how that would affect staffing.

Some employees are already working from home, and Pedersen said that may be expanded. 

"Now we're moving into the phase where we are looking at what consideration can be given to allowing some of our sworn members to do some work from home, but staying away from the workplace so that they can fill in down the road. And I'll just say that at this stage it's a work in progress,and something we're working towards."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah MacMillan is a reporter with CBC Sudbury. She previously worked with CBC P.E.I. You can contact her at sarah.macmillan@cbc.ca

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