CPD is adjusting to COVID-19 challenges

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/CPD
Officers of the Cambridge Police Department are coping with the challenges and dangers of the pandemic.

CAMBRIDGE — Officers of the Cambridge Police Department (CPD) have been adjusting to the new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, with scheduling changes and frequent checks of their health. Among the differences they see in the situation are the mix of calls received by the department — stress seems to be taking effect on some homes.

Though the overall number of calls to the CPD has remained the same, domestic issues have climbed. “We’re getting a lot of EPs [Emergency Protective Orders],” Capt. Justin Todd said in a phone conversation with the Banner on Friday.

This type of response is particularly dangerous for the officers, considering the highly infectious nature of the novel coronavirus. Not only are domestic calls known to be volatile — the department sends two officers at a time to them — but now, they require contact with the members of the public in their homes.
Another development over the previous three weeks has been the arrests made of individuals who have refused to disperse. Gov. Larry Hogan issued a directive last month prohibiting groups of 10 or more, as a way to slow the spread of the virus.

Local law enforcement officers spent the early weeks of the order focusing on educating the public, and asking violators to break up groups. That is different now, with the CPD having arrested about 20 individuals who refused to comply.
“We had to enforce the executive order,” Capt. Todd said. Not only have some of the violators refused to comply, but many have also earned charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest as the situations escalated.
For the policemen and women, that means even closer, hands-on contact, and they are taking greater risks at that point.

While emphasizing that officers will continue to do their duty regardless of the situation, “It makes the job tougher,” Capt. Todd said, when citizens will not follow obey the executive order and officers’ instructions.
“We appreciate the calls coming in,” he said. “We just have to have a good reason” to head out and check a group.
“We don’t want to enforce these orders,” Capt. Todd continued, “if we can do it by other means,” such as persuasion or warning.
He wanted to clear up some confusion over Gov. Hogan’s stay-at-home order.
“There is no curfew,” Capt. Todd said. “The order advises other than going out for essential needs you are to stay home. This is not an interpretation, this is the order as it is written and enforced by the Cambridge Police Department.”

In the performance of their duties, the officers wear protective equipment. They also take what precautions they can before they begin their shifts.
Each has his or her temperature checked every day, to see if a fever has developed, which might indicate COVID-19 infection. But there are no coronavirus tests available for the police officers, Capt. Todd said.
The CPD has divided officers into two crews, each working 12-hour shifts so they do not come in contact with each other. Chief Mark Lewis, and captains Louis Nichols and Todd have not been in personal contact since the emergency began, so that if one or more becomes sick, there will still be officers available to work.

As the shutdown continues, Capt. Todd finds himself working from home much of the time, to reduce his exposure to infection. He is looking forward to an end to the emergency and getting back to a regular schedule.
“I certainly won’t complain about my normal Monday morning,” he said.