CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The WCNC Charlotte Defenders team is learning about new steps the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department is taking to protect its officers from the coronavirus.
The Defenders team obtained a list from the department showing the personal protective gear issued to police officers.
CMPD officers typically carry weapons to make arrests or to protect themselves from suspects, but now WCNC Charlotte is learning what they’re carrying to protect themselves from the virus.
N-95 masks are in high demand in hospitals among healthcare workers on the front lines of the outbreak, but now CMPD officers are also expected to wear the masks when assisting medical personnel.
“That’s now required on all medical-related calls, the N95 masks you've heard so much about,” said CMPD Deputy Chief Jeff Estes.
It’s among a list of PPE issued to officers across the department. The Defenders team learned officers also have cloth masks, as well as disposable gloves and gowns, and goggles too.
“We’ve provided PPE for all-day wear and ensured that PPE was available,” said Deputy Chief Estes.
It comes as the outbreak took a major toll on the New York Police Department where more than 1,400 members tested positive and 31 people died. In a tweet two days ago, CMPD said COVID 19 exposure for officers has significantly decreased.
“Total we had 5 employees who tested positive I'm very pleased to say we have four of them back, only of them still out for that,” said Deputy Chief Estes.
CMPD says another 15 employees who have not tested positive are being quarantined as a cautionary measure. According to the recent tweet, CMPD has received additional PPE, which will help if the situation continues on for a longer period of time. The department says officers are directed to wear PPE whenever they respond to calls where a person is suspected of being infected or exposed to the virus.
“We hope that's had the desired effect to keep our employees safe,” said Deputy Chief Estes.
CMPD says officers also have the discretion to wear a mask whenever they believe there could be a potential exposure.