KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eight members of the Kansas City Police Department have tested positive for COVID-19. Three of them are academy recruits.
With dozens in quarantine, the department says it’s having to get creative.
The department’s monthly Police Commissioners meeting is normally held at KCPD headquarters and open to the public. This month, due to the pandemic, the public meeting was streamed live on Facebook.
“I hope this format is short lived for everybody’s sake,” one commissioner said at the beginning of the feed.
KCPD spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina said the meeting was unlike any before, and they’re doing a lot of things differently.
“It was the most unique one we’ve had maybe in our department’s history,” Becchina said. “We’re adapting, and we’re overcoming. We’re having creative solutions present themselves every day to problems we thought we’d never have.”
While eight employees have contracted the virus, 65 others are quarantined for interacting with them or others.
“Four of our eight positive members are non-sworn members, which means they’re not law enforcement officers, and three of those four are academy recruits that were in the more senior of the two current classes that we have going on right now,” Becchina said.
The KCPD Police Academy is currently closed to in-person education. The students who are able are doing distance learning.
The state requires the minimum of 600 hours to become a peace officer. However, KCPD’s academy puts recruits through 1,200 hours to graduate, so Becchina said they’re more than prepared for the job.
Their last graduation was in January. Officer Justin Selig graduated at the top of his class. He never imagined just a month and a half after graduation the world would be a different place.
“There’s definitely a level of fear there because I don’t want to get either of my kids or my wife sick,” Selig said. “But my wife is a nurse. She’s an essential employee, too. We want to help our community out.”
While the pandemic concerns him, Selig said he’s passionate about his job and conscious about being safe.
“There’s a lot of what-ifs. I think you could think that way about getting in a car wreck or getting injured in any other way,” Selig said. “You just have to be smart, use your common sense, use the tools that are provided to you, and do your best to stay on top of washing your hands with something like this or sanitizing everything.”
“This whole generation will remember this coronavirus, this COVID-19,” Becchina said. “This pandemic that we’re in, it’s going to be a defining moment. Such that 9/11 was a defining moment for law enforcement around that time.”
Becchina said all of their diagnosed employees are recovering, and none are in the hospital. This round of police recruits are expected to graduate on time, even those who contracted COVID-19.
The department is accepting masks and no-contact thermometers. If you would like to donate, call the non-emergency line to find out how to get them to the department.