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Chief updates police board on effects of COVID-19 on the department

Chief Gord Cobey said so far no members of the department have tested positive for COVID-19
20190919 Gord Cobey KA
Chief Gord Cobey of the Guelph Police Service makes a presentation to the Guelph Police Services Board in September of 2019. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday file photo

On Thursday, Guelph Police chief Gord Cobey told the local police services board he was happy to report no members of the department have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Guelph Police Services Board conducted its second full meeting held by conference call, a direct result of restrictions against gatherings and physical distancing due to COVID-19.

“Our members continue to demonstrate a resilience in relation to coping with that in their personal lives and in their work each day,” said Cobey to the board during the call.

Cobey said because of the size of the organization, it is not unlikely that the department will experience a positive case at some point.

“We continue to work very closely both with Public Health, our city colleagues, as well as our association and health and safety reps to make sure we are leveraging not only the best information we have with respect to health modelling etcetera but also within our work environment,” said Cobey.

The number of calls for service received by the department is beginning to return to normal levels after experiencing fewer numbers earlier in the pandemic, said Cobey.

In his report last month, Cobey noted the department’s Drug Unit, Intelligence Unit and the High Enforcement Action Team continue to make a lot of arrests and seizures, despite the COVID-19 crisis.

There is a possibility that COVID-19 may have an unpredictable effect on overtime hours and is being closely monitored by the department.

To date, COVID-19 has forced the department to spend about $6,000 in unexpected expenses, like safety supplies. That has been offset by a savings of $104,000 saved by the cancellation or postponement of training and travel due to the pandemic.

The Guelph Police headquarters has been closed to the public since March 20 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cobey said the department is conducting a physical assessment of its workplaces to determine how physical distancing can be promoted, which may include temporary or permanent barriers to be added, not unlike at grocery stores.

“What is going to be really important is keeping our organization and our members healthy as we progress in the upcoming weeks and months,” said Cobey. “As we have all seen in the last week or so, as we open up more and we increase interaction we are going to have to remain mindful on how we can keep everyone healthy.”