The Minneapolis Police Department has started screening its officers for coronavirus symptoms and will soon do the same for most visitors to any of its police stations and other department buildings.
The screening of sworn personnel went into effect Monday, according to an e-mail that went out to MPD supervisors and other city officials. It comes after an unnamed officer in the Fifth Precinct tested positive for the virus this month, becoming the first city officer to do so.
Under the new guidelines, all officers will have their temperatures taken as they report for work and will be asked screening questions — protocols already in place at hospitals, airports, jails and other police departments across the country. Anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will be sent home and barred from returning to the building for at least a week.
"Within a week or two after that (once more forehead thermometers are received) the MPD will begin screening all non-sworn MPD employees, all other city employees with work that requires entry, and all others entering MPD facilities for any purpose," the e-mail read. "This is including, but not necessarily limited to, custodians, electricians, building inspectors and members of the public."
Police spokesman John Elder said that visitors who go beyond the lobby will be screened.
Officers are also being encouraged to take their temperatures at home and not report for work if they have a fever.
Minneapolis has been largely spared from the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged police forces in Detroit and New York City, but calls for strengthening protections of cops and other first responders have grown louder.
State Health Department officials on Saturday announced that the death toll across Minnesota reached 244 and the total case count was 3,446, as testing for the virus ramped up.
In Minneapolis, officers had previously been assigned protective equipment such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, but until recently hadn't been required to use the gear on all calls.
The department has taken other precautions. Weekly crime strategy meetings are being conducted via video conferencing, detectives are conducting more interviews in the field, and certain low-level 911 calls are being handled out of a temporary call center staffed by members of the Community Engagement Team.
Two Minneapolis police officers had previously tested negative for the coronavirus, and Chief Medaria Arradondo said that "some of our staff have gone through a period of quarantine," including the infected employee.
St. Paul reported that two of its officers have been infected.