How Phoenix Police, Fire And Parks Are Dealing With Coronavirus

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 3:24pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 5:39pm

From ordering a million wipes to shifting schedules and posting signs, Police, Fire and Parks Departments are adapting to public interactions in the face of a pandemic.

Phoenix Police

During a city council meeting Monday, Chief Jeri Williams said police officers are making fewer arrests.

“Whenever possible we’ve asked our officers who are responding to misdemeanor crimes to issue citations as opposed to arresting folks. We’ve seen a decrease in the number of arrests seen at the jail, too,” she said. “The exception to that is domestic violence. If we go on a domestic violence call, we’re going to deal with it.

Williams said the Police Department has about 80,000 masks and gloves on hand with a million disposable disinfectant wipes expected to arrive this week. 

The communications centers are practicing social distancing, which is defined as keeping at least six feet of space between each other, and some full-time department employees have shifted from five days a week to four days to provide flexibility. The public lobby at the public records unit is closed, and the department has suspended fingerprinting services and is referring people to outside vendors that can conduct the service.

Phoenix Fire

Chief Kara Kalkbrenner said all personal protective equipment recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been distributed and the department continues to monitor and share information with employees.

Like the Police Department, Fire has developed a screening process for the initial 911 call to try to identify potential COVID-19 infected people through a series of questions. 

The regional dispatch center in Phoenix handles dispatch for 26 local fire departments. As of Monday, Kalkbrenner she said there were 156 dispatches related to potential COVID-19 incidents. Of those, 90 were within Phoenix boundaries. The number of transports involving potential COVID-19 incidents was 87 region wide and 40 in Phoenix.  She said the number of confirmed infected patients the Fire Department encountered was 3.

“We are working to create a plan to allow non-symptomatic firefighters that are concerned about potentially exposing their family an alternative location to stay during their off-shifts,” Kalkbrenner said. “And then we are working to finalize a plan for quarantine of infected firefighters if needed.”

Phoenix Parks

Visitors to city parks are being met with messages and, in some cases, rangers. Signs are being posted at parks and trailheads to promote social distancing and other recommendations. On Monday, Parks Director Inger Erickson said rangers are taking action if they find more than 10 people.

“We did send out rangers last night to educate some people in a park that had a quite large gathering and asked them to disperse and they complied,” she told council members.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is unhappy with Gov. Ducey’s executive order labeling parks and golf courses as essential services. The order bans cities from closing them, and Gallego thinks cities should have the authority. In a tweet Gallego wrote, "Cities have the most direct understanding of residents’ needs and this order hinders our ability to be responsive."

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