Philadelphia police

Philly Police Commissioner Tested Negative, Talks Mask Policy

Commissioner Outlaw has been on the job two months, and has spent the last couple weeks working part-time from her home as have other top police officials

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Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, who arrived to the city less than two months ago, says the department has less than a percent of its 6,500 uniformed personnel in quarantine or ill due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Our numbers are low enough to where I’m not concerned that we need to call for mutual aid," Outlaw said Tuesday.

Outlaw added that she has also been tested and her result came back negative.

"I am well. I am here," Outlaw said. But she said police officials who do work at the department's Center City headquarters are "doing the very best to stagger our time."

Outlaw is also working part-time from home.

The department last weekend lost its first officer to COVID-19. Lt. James Walker, a 33-year veteran of the force, died Sunday from the disease caused by the coronavirus. Walker, 59, was assigned to the traffic division. No other uniformed officers have died.

Police officers are now required to wear masks while on duty. The directive comes a couple weeks after Outlaw instituted new policies for arrests for the duration of the pandemic. The policies include fewer arrests and more citations until the outbreak is over in Philadelphia.

Outlaw said the department has not stopped analyzing its approach to how it handles crimes and enforcement of social distancing measures.

"We are living in a constant state of flux right now," she said.

Less than 1% of the Philadelphia Police Department's 6,500 uniformed officers have become ill with COVID-19 or are in quarantine, Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Wednesday.

Week-over-week crime showed some decreases and some increased in different types of criminal activity, according to data released Monday by the department. Overall, crime was up a small percent in both violent and property crime categories.

Outlaw said all officers are now told to wear face masks while on duty, with many donning cloth masks until better versions are available. That includes staffers in the department's dispatch center.

"Until we can get more surgical masks, or that next level of mask in between this and an N-95, this is the best," she said, showing off the makeshift cloth masks. "Again, it is not ideal. But we're doing the best with what we have."

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