Local law enforcement working to protect officers, deputies

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Many law enforcement operations are still business as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic.


As many in the Chippewa valley transition into working from home, local law enforcement agencies are doing what they can to protect officers from a potential COVID-19 exposure. For the Eau Claire Police Department, Chief Matt Rokus said that starts when someone calls the dispatch center.

“Our dispatchers will likely ask a caller if they have any COVID symptoms, such as a fever or cough,” he said. “When an officer arrives at your house, we may ask you to step outside, just so we can speak outdoors with a little more distance.”

The Eau Claire Police Department has issued personal protection equipment to all officers that is worn when on a call.

“Personal protection equipment is going to be very important, it has been issued to all of our officers and staff, so we can meet the needs our community has,” Rokus said. “Our role is to be out in the community and protect the community, so we have had to look at ways to do that while having less in-person contact.”

Over at the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department, investigators are working from home. Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk said they have decided to release some Huber inmates.

“Huber is an inmate that is eligible to go out and work when he or she has a job,” said Kowalczyk. “We have about 75 inmates either out working, gainfully employed or at home”

He says Huber inmates are those who would already be out in the community on work-release and they have to follow strict protocol.

“They have to come in every morning and do a preliminary breath test at the kiosk in the jail lobby," he said. "We do random checks, we do spot checks and we do appear unannounced at locations to make sure they are either at work or at home."

The reason for the release, according to Kowalczyk, is to limit the possibility of an inmate contracting COVID-19 and spreading it within the jail. Since the release, Kowalczyk said there have been three inmates brought back to the jail for violations.