MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Metro Transit Police Department is adjusting the way it functions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Metro Transit Police Chief Eddie Frizell emphasized how different his job has been lately.

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“This is a change in policing unlike I’ve seen in 20, 30 years,” Frizell said.

As COVID-19 concerns spread, Frizell moved swiftly to design a plan on what staffing would look like once the epidemic reached Minnesota.

The plan helped put more officers on the street, near bus stops and on light rail platforms. Captain Rick Grates, patrol operations, says it’s all hands on deck on their rotations.

“We’ve taken background investigators, people out of investigative units, people on specialty units, and we’ve thrown them all into a three shift rotation,” Grates said.

Grates says the three shifts — A, B and C not only increases police presence it also makes officer wellness a priority.

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“It really gives us a force multiplier and it also provides us with the opportunity to make sure that our officers are going home after their rotation, getting a period of time off with their families, making sure that they are safe and making sure that their families are safe,” Grates said.

Frizell says this new rotation has produced an almost non-existent sick rate.

“Making sure that there is no cross contamination between the three and allowing them to work five days on, 12 hours with 10 days off,” Frizell said.

Those 10 days off allow Metro Transit to track officers who may contract any illness, including COVID-19.

Officers have been educated on when to wear protective gear when dealing with riders.

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The new normal for officers begins every morning with social distancing during roll call. A process now done virtually, by using an app downloaded onto their department issued phones.

Reg Chapman