Fresno police adapting during COVID-19 pandemic

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The Fresno Police Department is working to keep the community safe while putting their own safety on the line, now possibly more than ever.

“We signed up for this job to help the community and sometimes we have to put our hands on somebody and make an arrest,” Lt. Tim Tietjen said Friday.

Social distancing is not always an option for officers. But Sgt. Jeff La Blue said, for safety, the department is given information on where each COVID-19 case is located and they’re working to strike a balance between slowing the spread while still doing their jobs.

“We’re wearing gloves and we have sanitizer and we’re doing everything we can to be safe,” Tietjen said.

Patrols cars are sanitized between suspects and police are trying to give people space as much as possible.

“If an officer asks someone to come out of their home, this is the the reasoning. It’s so we can respect the social distancing,” La Blue said.

Each patrol car is also outfitted with a red box full of medical supplies.

“The primary function of this box is to just secure a scene if we were to arrive before emergency services,” La Blue said.

An additional face mask is being added to the kits in response to the crisis.

“One for the public, one for the officer,” La Blue said.

He also said medical supplies are now being rationed and kept under lock and key, whereas they used to be up for grabs.

Despite all the changes, he said the biggest challenge through this has been mental.

“Officers are people just like everybody in the public and we have the same concerns that the public does,” he said.

Tietjen wanted to remind people police they can take reports over the phone and encouraged people to handle their issues this way if possible.

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