ABOVE: image via Jersey City POBA
Jersey City announced its initiatives regarding COVID-19 and the spread to the city’s first responders, following the news that two JCPD officers are currently in serious condition at a local hospital. As of press time, 42 officers are out with symptoms.
“There’s no question we’re seeing an impact on our first responders as they remain dedicated to their work to keep our community safe, especially during this crisis,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “This pandemic impacts all parts of life in the city, and our Public Safety Department is no different. We’re expanding safety protocols specifically to address the environments our police and fire personnel are exposed to for the overall health and safety of our community.”
Nevertheless, Jersey City’s Finest remains fully staffed and fully operational for emergency response—with over 950 officers citywide.
“The public safety posture in Jersey City remains unchanged,” said Public Safety Director James Shea. “Our police department is running with the same personnel numbers as before, and answering every single call. Some changes we have made do not affect anyone’s safety, but does affect our ability to keep our first responders safe and healthy.”
Enhanced safety measures being put into place include splitting up shifts of two officers in one car, to two cars with one officer in each, riding as a convoy. Roll call is no longer done in the district. All four districts are also being deep cleaned twice a week, in conjunction with regular aerosol cleaning and deep cleaning of police vehicles and other equipment.
“Our officers are no stranger to stress. They’re brave,” said JCPD Chief Michael Kelly. “We have personal protective equipment (PPE) kits with gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer that were distributed to all our officers since day one. On Monday, we’ll also start a telephone unit to better screen service calls for minor crimes and response.”
“While, like the rest of the community, we are concerned about the spread of COVID-19, our oaths don’t allow for us to work from home,” Carmine Disbrow, President of the JC POBA said. “Our union will continue to monitor and react to the situation as it unfolds to keep our members safe, as they work to keep the community safe at a challenging time.”
The City’s Fire Department is also taking measures to curb the spread of the virus among Jersey City’s Bravest.
“On the Fire Department side, we’ve closed fire houses to the public, and the firefighters are practicing social distancing as best they can while they live together inside their firehouses for 24-hour shifts,” said JCFD Chief Stephen McGill. “We too will continue to maintain adequate staffing and emergency response service communitywide.”
All residents are asked to refrain from calling 911 unless there is an emergency. All non-urgent calls should be directed to 201-547-5477.
“We have seen a 25-percent reduction in calls which is helpful in mitigating risk factors. I just want to thank our front line workers who continue to work hard to protect our residents amid this crisis,” concluded Mayor Fulop.
Since March 1st, 24 police officers who were showing signs of symptoms have reprotedly been cleared to return to work following strict CDC guidelines and the Jersey City Health Department.