AUSTIN, Texas — After two Austin Police Department employees tested positive for COVID-19, the department continues to take additional steps to prevent its spread.
At a virtual town hall held by the Austin Justice Coalition on Thursday afternoon to discuss the city's response to COVID-19, Chief Brian Manley outlined what measures he and his staff have implemented.
To the extent possible, his staff is taking steps to practice social distancing, and that includes reducing unnecessary contacts and minimizing interactions. His department is asking people to use online reporting sources to file police reports for crimes that do not include any officer response.
There are also processes in place for employees who believe they've been exposed to COVID-19 and resources to be tested, if appropriate.
Employees who are off duty and exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or flu-like illnesses can report themselves and get tested. That way, staff can address them and others who may have been around them.
Additionally, daily initial briefings will no longer take place in person.
"This has proven in other police departments as we're seeing to be an area where we can see the virus spread," Chief Manley said. "We're moving that into an online format."
Instead, officers will begin their shifts directly from their vehicles and communicate with staff through computer terminals or phones to exchange important information normally discussed at a briefing.
These measures are in addition to the changes Chief Manley announced on March 17.
"The men and women of all of your public safety agencies are showing up every day and they're doing their job," he said. "And unfortunately, in law enforcement, you face threats every day. It's just that the officers are facing this day is one that can follow you them home, as has been discussed so far."
Earlier this week, KVUE learned of the changes Austin-Travis County EMS has made to protect its employees from COVID-19, including medics wearing additional personal protective equipment and taking their uniforms off before entering their homes.
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