As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Camden County and South Jersey, local police departments and other essential personnel are finding creative ways to protect themselves as materials and supplies occasionally run short due to high demand.
Fortunately for Gloucester Township, the relationship between the municipality’s police department and its public schools has led to school equipment that would otherwise be idle in empty school buildings being used to keep officers and the public safe.
The GTPD has enacted special measures and precautions to ensure safety during the pandemic, such as limiting police response to calls with the help of online reporting, wearing of face masks and the frequent cleaning of police vehicles.
A wide variety of equipment and other materials still requires disinfecting on a daily basis. In mid-April, GTPS Superintendent John Bilodeau organized the lending of two UV light machines from Charles W. Lewis Middle School to the police department.
“These machines are normally used to disinfect goggles for science classes and are 99 percent effective for killing viruses,” said Chief David Harkins on the police department’s Facebook page. “The school district is lending this equipment to GTPD to allow us to disinfect our N95 masks, handcuffs, cell phones and other equipment that our officers are currently using during this crisis, which will extend the service life of our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
“We are very thankful for the school district’s support and partnership throughout the year and especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to Bilodeau, the department and school district sought ways to share resources for the protection of officers’ health. Previously, the school district has given the department digital forehead thermometers to test when officers arrive for work.
“We work very well with the police department here,” Bilodeau said. “When they have requests like that, we’re more than happy to step up and help them out. I’ve worked well with Chief Harkins for years, and if they need something that we have that can help keep the community safe, then we’re more than happy to do so.”
After the GTPD shared the news on Facebook, Bilodeau received communication from other school districts curious about the make and model of the UV light machines being borrowed by the police, information he shared with all Camden County schools.