To thwart coronavirus, small police departments must ‘think outside the box’

Kristen Johanson
March 20, 2020 - 5:50 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Police Department is providing its officers with protective clothing, helmets and the like amid the coronavirus pandemic, but other, smaller departments in the greater Philadelphia region are less likely to receive such protections.

“Smaller agencies don’t have access to the same resources as the larger agencies. They have fewer personnel; they have fewer potential access to hygiene supplies,” explained Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, which advocates for officers.

And if a few officers get sick in the small departments, it could have drastic consequences.

“They have got to monitor their employees’ health,” said Johnson. “Things like monitoring their employees’ temperatures throughout the day, monitoring their employees for signs of illness — really strongly encouraging any employee that thinks they might be ill to not report to work.”


Johnson said overtime may not be the best answer, as it can exhaust first responders. But having a plan in place for the worst potential outcome is crucial.

“Leaders in these agencies have to really, really think outside the box and take their cue maybe from other professions,” he said. “Maybe trying to identify recently departed or retired personnel that are willing to come back and serve in this emergency situation for the next six months or so.”