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MPD updates Fire & Police Commission on COVID-19 response; commissioner criticizes plan

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — Chief Alfonso Morales says the department currently has 12 employees that are quarantined, four of those are civilian employees and 8 are sworn officers. 

Morales shared the numbers and the department’s response at the Fire & Police Commission meeting on June 11. During the pandemic, Morales says 63 employees have tested positive, 54 of those are sworn officers. 

The majority of those were at District 5. 

“It took us a couple of months before we were able to get an adequate amount of PPEs,” Morales said. 

He said the department does have an adequate amount now. 

Assistant Chief Regina Howard said the Milwaukee Police Department is responding every week to about 850 positive COVID locations. 

“So that means our officers are having contact with locations and people tested positive for COVID,” she said 

Howard said the fire department did help clean up their lock up facility, which had a few people that were positive for COVID-19 and they shut that facility down twice. 

Howard said MPD received a $2.9 million grant from the Department of Justice for COVID-19 related expensive and the department plans to use part of that for additional PPE and masks, in case there is a second wave in the fall. 

Milwaukee Fire & Police Commissioner Raymond Robakowski, a former MPD Officer, criticized the department’s response. 

“Things have to be done, officers can not be held out there, I understand they go to 800 calls, but if the leadership isn't giving these guys and gals - and I don't want to hear about masks cause that's all this report says is you couldn't find masks,” he said about a report from the department. 

“There was no plan, there was no plan of action,” he said, “This is nothing, this is not a plan, extremely upsetting to me.” 

The Milwaukee Police Department put out a press release on May 7 that stated all police officers were required to wear personal protective equipment when interacting with the police, adding the requirement was made immediately after an adequate amount of masks were obtained through purchase and donations.

“For awhile we did not have that PPE equipment,” Howard said,”A lot of the PPE equipment we ordered was held up in customs - we were not considered to be essential workers.” 

Howard said there was a 30-person outbreak at District 5 and the department responded to that. 

“When we had outbreaks, we did utilize the fire departments. Yes, other districts had other members who have tested positive for COVID but the next closest district in terms of numbers is district number 7 and that's four people. There’s no big outbreak around the city and districts as a whole,” she said. 

She said every district and work location had a deep cleaning.  

“We had a deep clean at every district. That’s why we requested the additional maintenace staff so we would have enough staff to clean every work location,” she said. 

She said prior to the number of cases at District 5, they asked to have all members of the Milwaukee Police Department tasted. 

“Because we knew we were responding to COVID, we made a request to have all members of the department tested and that was something that was just not feasible for the City to do.”

She said they have worked with the health department to map out where positive locations are so officers would know when they are responding to a specific location. 

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