ST. LOUIS COUNTy (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar says his department of brave officers are committed to protecting and serving even during this global coronavirus pandemic.

“If it’s necessary to go out there and put handcuffs on somebody we’re going to do that,” Belmar said.

In the last three weeks, Belmar said the department has taken steps to make sure officers are safe from contracting COVID-19.

“We’re trying right now just to be present, be available let people see us and make sure we do what we need to do to keep everybody safe,” Belmar said.

Officers are limiting in-person responses by taking calls over the phone for nonviolent crimes. Belmar said in cases where police do respond, 911 operators will ask questions to make sure the citizens don’t have COVID-19 symptoms

Officers are also wearing personal protective equipment like gloves, masks and goggles.

Belmar said these steps are being taken to prevent them from looking like other cities across the country where police departments are getting hit hard by COVID-19.

In Detroit, 20% of their officers are quarantined. They’ve had two deaths and their chief has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Belmar said here in St. Louis he’s thankful the department has only had one positive COVID-19 case on the force so far.

“We’ve been very fortunate with that and again that can change on a dime and we know that,” he said.

The department has seen a surge in 911 calls related to the coronavirus.

“We know what today looks like and we know what tomorrow, but we need to try and telegraph this into next week,” Belmar said.

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