Memphis police officers take new precautions amid coronavirus outbreak

Memphis police officers take new precautions amid coronavirus outbreak

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Public health experts expect to see hundreds of more coronavirus cases in the coming weeks, putting a strain not just on hospitals, but all first responders.

“It’s very scary. You can practice social distancing all you want, but at some time you have to come into physical contact with individuals. You don’t know what situations you’re going into. We can’t go home. We can’t go home and work from there,” said Mike Wiliams, Memphis Police Association.

Mike Williams, head of the Memphis Police Association, says officers are taking precautions. The association is giving officers hand sanitizer and cleaners to spray on patrol cars.

“We want to make sure those who can’t get it, can,” said Williams.

Williams pointed out it is just a matter of time before some officers contract the coronavirus like in New York City, where NBC News reports 100 officers have tested positive.

When asked if any Memphis police officers have tested positive, a spokesperson would not release that information. We also wanted to speak with MPD Director Michael Rallings about how the department is handling the pandemic.

On Sunday, we were told Rallings has been off on personal leave. And as of Wednesday, he was still unavailable for interviews.

The last time Memphis Police posted a photo of Rallings on social media was on March 7 at a men's club meeting at St. Augustine Church.

The police director also did not appear in a photo taken on March 14, as Mayor Jim Strickland held a briefing with top city leaders.

A spokesperson says the police department's top command is running the department as they usually do.

Mike Williams says officers are doing what they can on the streets.

"They’re being told to practice social distancing, wearing their gloves, their masks, evaluating every situation the go into. I believe the dispatchers are being told if they have information beforehand, relay that to the patrol officer responding to the all’s,” said Williams

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