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Milwaukee police officers soldier on amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 11:37 AM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 12:37:10-04

MILWAUKEE — Stay at Home orders from the state and the City of Milwaukee remain in effect as public officials fight the spread of COVID-19.

The virus has pushed many first responders into new and uncharted territory.

But so far, it's been business as usual for Milwaukee police officers.

Capt. Willie Murphy, a 24-year Milwaukee police veteran, said the department has of course been forced to adapt to social distancing recommendations.

"The public is going to see us wearing masks and gloves while interacting with them," Murphy said. "They're going to see us asking people to step outside of their homes to have conversations with us, to maintain that social distancing."

Murphy added that, while officers never trained for COVID-19 specifically, the Milwaukee Police Department's training guidelines stress the importance of being able to adapt to new and, at times, unknown challenges.

"As officers, we always have to operate in situations that involve a lot of risks and unknowns," Murphy said.

"The human side of us, of course we don't want to contract COVID-19, we don't want to take it home to our families. But we have a duty to serve and protect," Murphy said. "This is a serious health pandemic, but it doesn't change the fundamental duties of law enforcement."

Murphy said that sense of responsibility has helped officers remain upbeat.

"The officers understand they're serving a purpose greater than themselves," Murphy said. "It doesn't erode our morale. In situations like this, serving a purpose greater than ourselves, it actually uplifts us. It helps motivate us."

That being said, the department still needs the public's help. Murphy said MPD could always use donations of medical-grade, N95 masks.

"Those come in extremely handy when it comes to just keeping officers healthy and out there on the front lines," Murphy said.

He said the department does have its Chaplain, George Papachristou, and two in-house MPD psychologists available should any officers need mental health assistance/support during the strenuous time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Those psychologists specialize in situations where there's cumulative stress and trauma, which is of course associated with police work," Murphy said.

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