Detroit police report alarming rise of COVID-19 in department

The Detroit Police Department, much like the rest of the state, is seeing an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in the department and the city's chief is concerned about his officers.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Friday the department is seeing a dramatic increase in infection rate.

Craig said his command team is working through strategies to curb the rise in cases but said 79 officers and civilians were quarantined as of Friday. Of the 79 officers, 49 have tested positive for the virus.

The spike is similar to the one the entire state of Michigan is experiencing this fall.

“I can just think back three or four weeks ago we had a very low number. What we’re seeing across the state even the infection rate in the city, we’re seeing it inside the police department.," Craig said.

Detroit's top cop is emphasizing what we know works: reminding officers to wear masks and social distance where possible. They're also sending department members home quickly if they come to work with Coronavirus symptoms until they can be tested.  

“Where we are today with testing in comparison to when COVID first hit, we didn’t have the rapid tests, we didn't have the number of tests. We have those tools in place now and we can more readily know if a person is infected," he said.

While 79 quarantined officers is high, it's a stark contrast from the spring when 650 officers were quarantined. At that point, Detroit Police shut down the communications center and moved to a back up location while support staff transitioned into patrol.

“The first priority is to always have the ability to respond to emergency calls for service," Craig said.

There are roughly 2,800 sworn and civilian members in the department but the chief says they’re in a constant state of readiness and what they learned early during the pandemic is helping them now. 

“There was a lot of ambiguity early on and certainly as a COVID survivor, this is something that we’re taking very seriously. It’s a very serious disease," Craig said.

Craig says if they have positive cases they are also using contact tracing to suss out who else may have been exposed. He says they may also consider limiting access to lobbies once again and encouraging people to call in to limit in-person contact.