Clark County law enforcement agencies say it’s been business as usual over the past month, as the community continues to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
The Vancouver Police Department has grown its stash of personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer, but it continues to look for more N95 masks for officers, spokeswoman Kim Kapp said. Officers are wiping down their vehicles with disinfecting wipes, and the vehicles are completely decontaminated by a vendor on a weekly basis, Kapp said.
Officers routinely use PPE at their discretion while on the job. If additional information is obtained during a response to a call or during contact, they may take additional measures, Kapp said. Vancouver police officers had the option to use such equipment, including masks, prior to the spread of COVID-19.
The staffing of officers hasn’t had to shift at all. The number of exposures are relatively low compared to the number of overall contacts with suspects or the public, Kapp said, and there have been no confirmed positive cases among officers.
In terms of COVID-19-related calls for service, most of the public is complying with social-distancing recommendations. But Kapp said that police are still getting calls regularly about people violating the emergency guidelines.
“The numbers haven’t been overwhelming. Most can be handled with a phone call to the person reporting the activity to educate them,” Kapp said.
The police department has also received several calls about a lack of enforcement of social distancing inside of essential businesses. However, police have contacted the businesses and determined that it has more to do with physical limitations.
Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Brent Waddell said there is no empirical data that suggests an increase in calls directly related to COVID-19. He said there has been an uptick in vehicle thefts and prowls above historical norms.
“We will have to gather more data as time goes on to determine if it is related to COVID-19 or releases from (Clark County Jail),” he said. The jail released about 200 inmates last month to help prevent the spread of the virus within the facility.
The sheriff’s office has not had to change staffing in the last month. One corrections officer at the jail tested positive for the virus, and nine other staff were placed in quarantine as a result. The quarantined officers have already returned to work.
The infectious disease questionnaire list being used by the county’s dispatchers has been helpful in giving deputies advanced notice of what they’re walking into, Waddell said. The sergeant equated it to another routinely asked question: “Are there weapons in the residence, and are they in play today?”