MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA — Chief Todd J. Fitzgerald would like to share the following message with the residents of Manchester-by-the-Sea:
“To our residents,
As our Town continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, with one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Manchester-by-the-Sea, I thought it was important to provide an update on how it is affecting our police department.
MPD has been working closely and regularly with the Board of Selectman, Town Administrator, Board of Health and our state and federal partners to make the best possible decisions with the information available to deal with this public health emergency. All the decisions and actions that have been made thus far have been the result of a collaborative effort.
MPD’s primary function is maintaining public safety and providing the same level of service that our residents and visitors are accustomed to. With that said, I am also committed to reducing the exposure of COVID-19 to our officers and staff.
I have made significant changes to our daily staffing which allows us to always have a group of officers on stand-by should someone come down with symptoms of the virus.
Our support staff is now working remotely, and we have put personal protective equipment in all our vehicles for officers to use as needed. The equipment includes masks, gowns, gloves, eye protection and cleaning supplies. We have submitted requests to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) for more personal protective equipment so that we can be prepared if Manchester by-the Sea should see a significant outbreak of COVID-19. Disinfectant solutions have also been applied to police vehicles and the station.
Officers have been advised of the proper precautionary measures and best practices for prevention. I have instructed personnel to take reasonable measures to minimize the risk of being exposed to the virus during routine work. This includes social distancing when feasible, handling incidents and contacts by phone, if possible, and curtailing some non-essential hands-on work. Our fingerprinting and medication drop box services have been suspended until further notice. Residents who wish to submit an application for a firearms license are reminded that they can print and fill out the application here and return it by dropping it off at the station.
Dispatching protocols have also been changed which allow our dispatchers to ask certain health-related questions to help identify callers with symptoms of COVID-19. Our first responders can protect themselves with proper protective equipment, but will only do so if there is a valid concern for their health based on information provided by the caller.
On March 23, the Manchester-by-the-Sea Board of Selectman declared a State of Emergency. The declaration is the initial step for the town to expedite resources to protect the public from the impact of COVID-19 and allows for emergency expenditures pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws.
As a result of the declaration, I opened a local Emergency Operations Center. This EOC is open daily and is currently staffed by myself and Fire Chief Beardsley and is administered by Police Lt. Mark McCoy. The EOC allows the town — especially police and fire officials — to review daily information about COVID-19, make strategic operational changes regarding personnel, coordinate our efforts with MEMA, maintain continuity with our response and expenditures and relay appropriate information to our personnel in the field as needed.
The response to COVID-19 on the local, state and federal level is unprecedented. There have been restrictions put in place that have caused hardships on many. However, these restrictions are necessary in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our community and first responders.
I want our residents to know that your local first responders and town leaders are working collaboratively to monitor this pandemic and the effects on Manchester by-the Sea. The Manchester by-the-Sea Police Department is committed to public safety and serving the residents of this town during these uncertain times. Officers remain ready to respond to provide our core services whenever and wherever needed.”