5 Dallas officers sent home after potential coronavirus exposure
Officials say the suspect that could have infected the officers is also being monitored after being taken into custody
The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS — Five Dallas police officers were told to stay home temporarily after arresting a man whom jail officers later reported had a “possible case of COVID-19” on Sunday.
Parkland Hospital officials also confirmed on Monday they were monitoring the 24-year-old “out of an abundance of caution.”
All five officers who came in contact with the person they arrested “were notified of the potential exposure and given a day off for precautionary reasons,” according to a Dallas police statement.
“Per our contagious disease policy, all five officers that came in contact with the arrested person were notified of the potential exposure and advised not to return to work until further notice,” the police statement said.
At about 9 a.m. Sunday, Dallas officers responded to a disturbance call at an East Dallas apartment. When officers arrived, Dallas Fire and Rescue had taken the 24-year-old man to a local hospital for injuries he sustained from an assault, according to a Dallas police statement.
Medical staff treated the man and released him back to Dallas officers, who drove him to jail and charged him with assault of a family member, police said.
At around 10:30 p.m., jail officers notified Dallas police of a possible case of COVID-19 involving the man, who was taken by private ambulance to Parkland Hospital.
A Parkland spokesperson confirmed that the 24-year-old suspect was taken to the hospital. “We are monitoring the person for symptoms out of an abundance of caution,” April Foran said. “We cannot offer comment beyond those facts.”
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, which oversees the jail, said in a statement that it has “an extensive intake screening process,” which was recently updated over concerns related to the virus outbreak.
“There has not been and are not currently any cases of the Coronavirus in the Dallas County Jail,” the sheriff’s department said.
Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, said Monday evening that the suspect knew he could stay out of jail by claiming to be sick.
When doctors examined him, Mata said, “the suspect had no indication of being ill. His claim had no merit.”
The squad cars involved in the man’s arrest were immediately removed from service for cleaning, police said.
Members of the department are currently working with medical professionals to draft a protocol to ensure officer safety.