Middletown police add sanitation guidelines, safety measures for coronavirus concern

Middletown police officers are equipped with tools to combat the spread of coronavirus in addition to common crime, police said.

“Unless the call is a domestic violence or assault or something, we are instructing dispatchers and officers to meet the … citizens outside on the front porch and we can keep a good distance away,” said Middletown police Chief David Birk.

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The officers all have hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes for their cruisers and uniforms.

“They have been instructed to disinfect their uniform and everything on a regular basis,” Birk said.

That will include spraying and wiping down uniforms after any close contact. If officers are in a situation where they have to make at arrest, they have surgical masks and gloves.

“Then disinfect themselves immediately and also the cruiser again,” Birk said.

The officers and firefighters/medics are doing everything they can to stay safe and limit contact with the virus, he said.

“This is the way it is, we wipe everything down and go back out there,” the chief said.

As today, Birk said none of his force has been tested for the virus.

The precautions are unprecedented in a job that is inherently dangerous.

“I have been doing this 25 years, I have never seen anything like this, even with the swine flu or West Nile,” Birk said. “We have never taken any precautions like we are with this.”

The police lobby and Middletown Municipal Court remain open.

“People need us, we can’t close the police department … we are still responding to calls and we are screening those calls, so if it is a non-essential call and it is a civil issue, we will explain that to the caller,” Birk said.

The dispatchers will also screen calls and ask some additional questions. Essential services from first-responders will continue and many departments will continue to operate with modified services to minimize in-person contact.

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