By MARTY LEVINE
Pitt’s first responders are adapting to a University campus where the main activity is around the hospitals and showing up to the scene of a disturbance can cause a new type of danger and stress.
Even though there has been a “dramatic decrease in calls,” says Pitt Police Chief Jim Loftus, from the usual variety — “open doors calls, alarms, requests for escorts, minor and major disputes” — his officers are being asked more often to support the people working in, and using, campus hospitals, he says.
The police force is still at full strength and “everyone is taking precautions” to stay safe from COVID-19, including adding personal protective equipment to their uniforms and getting screened every day when they arrive for their shifts. Still, police work doesn’t allow the officers to remain six feet from everyone at all times, and this is an extra stressor, Loftus says.
“It’s just very strange,” he adds. “I don’t know anyone who has been through anything like this.”
Locked and empty buildings haven’t posed extra issues for police or campus security guards, Loftus reports. And while the nation has experienced “a pretty demonstrable increase in domestic violence,” he says. “We haven’t seen that here, obviously.
“Some people might think, hey, you’re a police department and a large constituency has gone, have you guys closed your doors? We haven’t gone away and we’ll be here throughout.”
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-758-4859.
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