Law Enforcement Agencies Adjust Patrols to COVID-19 Threat

The Escondido Police Department, one of the county's smaller agencies, established new shifts for patrol officers to reduce exposure.


Like everyone else dealing with precautionary measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, local law enforcement agencies across San Diego County are making adjustments to their daily routines.

Some of the bigger changes involve when patrol officers work.

The Escondido Police Department was one of the first departments to roll out 12-hour shifts with the idea of keeping groups of officers together and, just as importantly, separated from the other groups.

Under normal circumstances the department deploys officers in overlapping 10-hour shifts.

Lt. Chris Leso said the new rotation is made up of four teams. Two teams work the night shift and two teams work the day shift and none of them overlap.

The shift changes, now in the second week, appear to be working so far. No one in the department is suspected of having COVID-19.

But, it's about more than prevention. Should an officer show signs of the disease, it would make it easier to quarantine and contain.

The department's detectives are standing by ready to backfill if needed.

"Right now our detective division is working from home. They do come into the office in a limited capacity, but they are working from home and they are ready," said Leso.

Other departments are preparing for similar transitions.

On Friday the Chula Vista Police Department implemented the same 12-hour rotation and the Oceanside Police Department is ready to make the move in coming days.

The San Diego Police Department isn't sharing its shift strategy during this pandemic, only saying it's something they look at daily to make sure they have enough officers to respond to any incident.

Regardless of any shift changes, police have said response times within their respective departments will not be impacted.

The Escondido Police Department has implemented some other minor changes.

Their station lobby is closed to the public, although people can still buzz staff inside. Dispatchers have also been instructed to ask more questions about COVID-19, like whether the caller or anyone at a home has been experiencing any symptoms.

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