NEW JERSEY – About 700 New Jersey police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Saturday.
“There’s more than 700 police officers quarantined at home, and there’s about the same … number that have tested positive from all 21 counties,” Col. Patrick Callahan, acting superintendent of the State Police, said in Trenton during the state’s daily coronavirus press briefing.
Callahan did not provide specific details regarding the affected departments. Nevertheless, the amount is far higher than previously known, nj.com reported.
Two officers that were in “serious condition” are now stable, Callahan said. None have died.
There are about 36,000 full-time officers in the state, according to recent State Police data, and experts said the public should not be concerned about a looming officer shortage.
“If you have the right officers and you have the right supervisors … we are good,” said Maria Haberfeld, a police science professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
- STREET VIOLENCE ERUPTS AS COUNCILMAN CALLS POLICE ‘PIGS’ AND ‘KILLERS’ AFTER FATAL SHOOTING OF ARMED SUSPECT
Fortunately, crime has also dropped in the state, officials have said, which could help departments cope with any short-staffing, according to Jon Shane, a retired Newark police captain who teaches at John Jay.
“We don’t need as many police officers to respond if the work isn’t there,” he said.
While smaller agencies would be more affected by sick officers, he said, even a steep decline in cops could be offset by help from neighboring departments, state troopers and “special officers,” which are sometimes retired cops at schools.
Moreover, some officers have been freed up due to the closure of businesses like casinos.
The state attorney general has raised the alarm, however, about a shortage of protective gear.
“We’re struggling, we are absolutely struggling with PPE across this state,” Gurbir Grewal said Thursday. Some gear had to be wasted breaking up illegal gatherings, he said.
New Jersey has at least 11,124 known cases of the virus overall, including at least 140 known deaths, officials announced Saturday.
A total of 163 law enforcement officers in New Jersey have tested positive for the coronavirus, the New Jersey State Police said on Sunday in retracting a much-higher figure provided a day earlier, nj.com reported.
Col. Patrick Callahan, acting superintendent of the State Police, told reporters at a press conference Saturday that about 700 officers had tested positive.
In a statement, the State Police said Callahan had “overstated” the numbers.
However, 1,272 officers in New Jersey are quarantined and 1,435 are “out for other reasons,” State Police said.