SFPD navigates pandemic to maintain service to community

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 6:36 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Like most businesses, the Sioux Falls Police Department is adapting to employees being affected by COVID-19.

The city’s police force has implemented safety protocols and taken other measures to battle the virus.

The Sioux Falls Police Department is on duty 24/7 to protect the people of Sioux Falls, but unfortunately serving the community doesn’t protect officers from COVID-19.

Unlike other businesses, the SFPD didn’t have the option to send employees to work from home in March, when the pandemic began.

“We don’t have the option of not having people come to work we have to be out there every day at a functional level, and so we crafted our response and the message we gave to employees is to mitigate your risk,” said SFPD Lieutenant Jon Thum.

Officers and staff are screened daily, wear a mask when social distancing cannot be done, and are told to constantly monitor symptoms. Even with advanced measures in the workplace, some things are out of their control.

Thum added, “We’re more likely to deal with issues that come up with a sick kid, or a military deployment where COVID was out there, or guard training, or numerous other circumstances, or a spouse that happens to be a nurse or a spouse that is dealing with it. Not only is it with us dealing with it internally it’s with what’s happening externally as well.”

Thum says the police department is continually navigating the virus and filling positions as needed. Having officers gone or not able to work in 2020, he says is relatable to past years.

“Honestly, it’s not very different than any other years where we’ve dealt with either military leave, childcare leave, a really bad flu season where people are going down sick, we have to find ways to fill that.” Thum continued, “We’ll either do, like any other business, where we have to hire some people back or call in for overtime.”

Thum adds throughout the entirety of the pandemic in 2020, the department has always been able to keep the city safe.

“Ultimately what’s important is that we maintain our functional strength, our functional numbers and I can assure the people here that we have come nowhere close to reaching a level that we can’t maintain,” said Thum.

Officials say there is an emergency staff plan in place if need be, but have yet to get to that point.

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