Portland Police Chief Star Thomas told the Beacon this afternoon that, “This is an unprecedented situation, but so far, for the most part, it’s been business as usual for the department.” Thomas said that the Governor’s Executive Order issued today, “presents a unique opportunity for people to stay at home and spend time with their families.” She continued, “This is not a time for people to panic. All essential services like grocery stores, banks, gas stations and drugstores will remain open.” The Police Department intends to continue to operate at full capacity.
Thomas recently shared with the Beacon that, “The Portland Police Department, works very hard to catch things before they become problematic. Our approach is to actively engage with the community”. This is the strategy that her officers intend to use in the current situation. “Residents should not see us doing anything different with the exception perhaps of an increased presence around those community businesses.” Although she stated, “they may see us in surgical or N-95 masks if we need to have close contact with an individual or if we have to enter a home where we expect corona-like symptoms”. The department has been proactively managing its own potential exposure by limiting inked fingerprinting and breath testing for probationers required to report and be tested.
The Chief explained that her department started to prepare for this situation about three weeks ago as they began to hear reports about the coronavirus. “Many of us have family members involved in public service or healthcare professions, so we have been on heightened awareness.” The Portland Police Department has been sanitizing their police cruisers both in the front passenger areas as well as in the backseats. They also have a small supply of masks, some of which have been donated and some borrowed from the Ambulance Department. “We also have an active process in place to assess the well-being of all officers prior to shift-change”. So far, there have been no virus-related issues with any staff.
Thomas hopes that residents choose to honor the Governor’s Executive Order and work together as a community to get through this. She is aware of people offering to get groceries and other necessities for neighbors. “Being socially distant, but neighborly right now is really important”, Thomas concluded.