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Newcastle and surroundings are currently in a COVID hurricane with the number of cases soaring. With this in mind, not much thought has been given to our police officers’ potential for not being able to work due to being sick.
What happens if the police as a whole contract the virus, who will uphold the law? Furthermore, does the SAPS have a plan in place to prevent this potential problem from unfolding?
Due to the seriousness of the situation, SAPS Corporate Communications and Liaison Officer, Lizzy Arumugam stresses Newcastle Police Station has a fully operational plan to ensure law officials can continue their duties during the pandemic.
But what are these plans?
Arumugam elaborate that police officials are currently on rotation. This means that 50% of the members will work from home, while the other 50% will be on duty at the police station.
This is to ensure the station does not have several people on its premises at any given time—hindering the threat of the virus spreading among the police.
Arumugam emphasises, “If a member tests positive and the result is given while he or she is on duty, all members who were in contact with them will go into isolation immediately.” Moreover, the process does not end there. The area in which these police officers work will be cornered off. Steps are then taken to start the decontamination and disinfection process.
For example, if the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) is affected, that area will be closed off, and the officers will be put into isolation. The FCS Unit will then operate from another venue— meaning that the officers working from home will then report for duty at the respective venue.
Criminals will not be able to take advantage of the pandemic assures Arumugam. Adding to the above, she states, “A number of police officers also work outside during their shifts and not in the station.”
The officers who work Newcastle’s streets during their shifts are also minimising the spread of the virus. SAPS vehicles are being sanitised daily, with additional sanitisers kept in the vehicles to ensure police officers can follow the necessary steps to protect themselves.
Arumugam concludes in saying, it is imperative to remind the community they can no longer simply walk into the station as they please.
When going to the police station, Newcastillians must adhere to the following steps:
- Community members visiting the station must make sure they are wearing a protective mask.
- When arriving at the station, they must ensure they adhere to social distancing protocols.
- They will be sanitised, and their temperature will be taken.
- They must ensure that they fill in the movement register at the entrance.
- Visiting any detained person at the station is currently not allowed.
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