Phoenix Police Officer Tests Positive for COVID-19

Police officer tested positive for COVID-19.
Police officer tested positive for COVID-19. Ash Ponders
A Phoenix police officer has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement from the city of Phoenix (first shared with ABC15 reporter Nicole Grigg, who published the statement on Twitter), the city was first notified that the officer had tested positive on Monday evening. The officer was reportedly on vacation, developed symptoms, and has not returned to work for more than two weeks.

The city also told Phoenix New Times they have sent information to all city of Phoenix employees advising them to stay at home if they are ill or have had close contact with someone who tested positive.

The Phoenix Police Department did not immediately respond when asked if the officer had been to work at all or come into contact with other Phoenix police employees since returning from vacation and developing symptoms.

In New York City, where the COVID-19 outbreak has surged with over 21,000 cases and 280 deaths, more than 300 New York Police Department employees have tested positive for the virus. In Chicago, nine police officers have tested positive for the virus. Two have been hospitalized.

On Tuesday, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams shared a statement on YouTube announcing measures the department is taking in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. She did not mention that a Phoenix police officer had tested positive for COVID-19.

In the three-minute video, Williams said she has directed dispatchers to ask COVID-19-related questions when a call comes in to 911. Phoenix police spokesperson Sergeant Mercedes Fortune told CBS5 News/3TV for a Wednesday broadcast that dispatchers are asking questions like, "Do you have a fever? Are you experiencing any flu-like symptoms, and have you been in contact with anyone from China, Iran, Italy, and other countries listed by the CDC?"

If the caller says yes, dispatchers will instruct the caller to wear a mask. If the caller does not have a mask, officers will bring one, Fortune said.

"We are making every attempt to minimize transportation and exposure to the jails. If the situation is violent or dangerous, they will transport as necessary," Williams said. Fortune told CBS5 News/3TV that officers are encouraged to exercise greater discretion when determining whether or not to make an arrest.

Phoenix police have also closed the lobby at their Public Records and Services Unit, which handles records requests, vehicle impound, and assistance with alarms. People can still call ahead to make an appointment if needed.

Last week, Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order requiring bars, gyms, and movie theaters to close and requiring restaurants to halt dine-in services.

In response, Williams said Phoenix police officers are  "responding to businesses, providing education about the local and state order requiring bars, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters to close. Our community relations and community action officers will be providing educational material to businesses that are not following the executive order."
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Meg O'Connor was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from April 2019 to April 2020.