The fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Calgary has hit police just as hard as the wider community.
At a meeting of the Calgary Police Commission on Wednesday, the Calgary Police Service reported that it had accumulated almost double the positive cases among CPS members since the Omicron variant’s arrival in the province than during the entire pandemic before it.
Between March 2020 and November 2021, 239 CPS members tested positive for COVID-19. In the past two months, 428 members tested positive.
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CPS currently has 61 active COVID-19 cases, with 83 percent of those among sworn members.
Deputy Chief Raj Gill said 93.75 percent of CPS members were fully vaccinated with two or more doses.
An internal analysis revealed members who tested positive for the coronavirus had been vaccinated 94 percent.
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“That number reflects what’s happening in the larger society, in terms of fully vaccinated people testing positive for COVID,” Gill said.
But the police service does not plan to change its masking guidance.
“We continue to follow the orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health in Alberta and in addition, we investigate occupational safety officers every time we have a COVID-positive case – through our incident management team and our health nurse – to see if there are any prevention efforts are what we can tackle in those environments, ”said the deputy principal.
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At its peak, about 100 members tested positive and about 50 were self-isolating, CPS chief Mark Neufeld said, adding that it was consistent on an 80-20 split between sworn and civilian members.
“The most challenging impact, of course, was at the front line,” Neufeld said. “Of course we have some staff shortages that we experience at the front line anyway. And on top of that, when we lose people in the front line, it can actually make it very difficult. ”
CPS members were drawn from other areas to be redeployed on the front lines, known as patrol support advisory teams.
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“We started with seven members working day shifts (and) seven members working night shifts that are available to be redeployed across the city whenever we have shortages,” Gill said. “And then we continue to turn around and monitor the resource needs and we will be able to adjust it and look at other resources if necessary.”
Neufeld acknowledged that the redeployments affected other areas of CPS, but praised the work done to manage civilian resources “fairly effectively”.
“I think we will mainly use overtime if we have to, but for the most part I think the incident management team and the group that worked on it had to do with the logistics to make sure there are extra bodies out there as often as what they can do, ”he said.
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Gill added that the CPS vaccination policy has resulted in only a few resignations and is “multiple members” in the disciplinary process.
Non-vaccinated CPS members are subjected to rapid antigen testing twice a week to stay in line with the policy.
The current inventory of rapid tests will expire in March, a case CPS said it is working with the City of Calgary to address.
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