“A Huge Distraction” – Saginaw Police Request Protections From COVID-19

Officers and detectives in the Saginaw Police Department (SPD) want to see a couple of changes in the way the department handles things during the coronavirus pandemic.

Departments across Michigan have changed how they schedule their personnel to limit officer’s exposure to the disease, including the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department and the Saginaw Township Police Department. Typically, police will work a few 12-hour shifts and then have a few days off. Many departments are now enacting a rotating seven-day-on, 14-day-off schedule.

Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) business agent Jim Tignanelli, who represents the SPD, says the idea is to limit the virus’ spread.

“You (have) a little bit more of a stable environment, but the primary idea was if an exposure happened here tonight, there would be less of us here at that particular time and we could limit it to that group. And the cross exposures would be limited, too.”

Tignanelli says because the department is smaller than many, the request is for officers to work on a seven-day-on, seven-day-off schedule. Only around 50 officers and detectives work in the SPD.

SPD detectives have their own request. They’re asking for laptops with secure lines be placed in their vehicle, much like the road patrol officers use. Tignanelli says this limits the amount of time a detective needs to spend within the department building, allowing them to work from their vehicles.

Currently, two SPD detectives have tested positive for the disease. One, who tested positive in March, is still in the hospital.

Tignanelli says so far, both requests have been denied.

Saginaw Police Chief Bob Ruth told WSGW he can’t comment during contract talks. Tignanelli says there are talks occurring, as the department has operated without a new contract since last June. Tignanelli says, however, these requests aren’t a part of any arbitration or contract negotiations.

Tignanelli says there’s a lot of anxiety within the department.

“I don’t want to say we we’re all going to get sick if we walked in but the anxiety is a huge distraction. It would seem easily remedied by getting… laptops to work in their cars.”