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'The time to do it is now' | Some calling for hazard pay for CMPD officers during COVID-19 pandemic

Deputy Chief Estes says he has talked to officers who feel safe but acknowledges other offices feel differently.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CMPD confirms four employees, including three officers, have tested positive for COVID-19. Around 30 other employees are currently on leave as a precaution.

The confirmed cases and employees out of the building as an extra measure are reigniting the discussion surrounding hazard pay, and a change in how the department handles calls for service.

RELATED: 3 CMPD officers have tested positive for COVID-19, dozens more are in quarantine

“As long as we are in a personnel or staffing stance where we are able to send officers to respond to calls generated by the citizens, we believe it is our duty to do so,” CMPD Chief Deputy Jeff Estes said.

Chris Kopp with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9 sees changes being made by governments, organizations and businesses across the country. He says he wants to see the same at CMPD.

"Just yesterday we had two officers respond to a neighbor calling because a dog pooped in their yard,” Kopp said. “Is that really an essential call for service where we need to expose not only these officers but the community too?”

Kopp says more common calls for service like landlord-tenant disputes, noise complaints and even larcenies where there’s no suspect could be handled without a physical response.

“Don’t wait before 20, 50 or 100 officers test positive before changing policies,” Kopp said. “The time to do it is now.”

When pressed on the idea of hazard pay for CMPD officers, Deputy Chief Estes declined to comment.

“Any type of enhanced pay is a decision that would have to be made by people above me, smarter than me, and in larger positions of leadership,” Estes said. “I’m sure that’s being talked about and decided upon and whatever, but I wouldn’t be able to comment on that.”

While Kopp concedes it’s a decision that Deputy Chief Estes doesn’t make, he believes a public stance on hazard pay is necessary.

“For a Deputy Chief to sit up there and say ‘it’s above my paygrade’, well how many more paygrades are above his?” Kopp said. “Leadership needs to step up and take care of their officers.”

CMPD says it is providing officers with the proper protective gear. Deputy Chief Estes says he has talked to officers who feel safe but acknowledges other offices feel differently.

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