On Monday, East Ridge Police Chief Stan Allen confirmed that the department is receiving information from the state about people who have COVID-19 in East Ridge.
“We get the names e-mailed to us on a daily basis,” Chief Allen said via telephone. “It is strictly confidential.”
Chief Allen said that the list is furnished by the Tennessee Department of Health. In order to received the information, Chief Allen said the city had to enter into a strict Memorandum of Understanding, which apparently restricts how this information is used.
When asked about the number of people residing in East Ridge who are on the list, Chief Allen would not comment.
On Saturday, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that the state of Tennessee was offering law enforcement across the state access to the list. The news article said that Collegedale and East Ridge police departments were receiving the list.
The two largest law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County, the Chattanooga Police Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department are not using the list.
A memo from the sheriff’s department released on Monday afternoon states that the department “has not entered into any agreement with our local Health Department or the Tennessee Department of Health in order to receive information pertaining to a patient’s information or medical diagnosis.”
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said Monday during a Facebook Livestream that he had spoken with CPD Chief David Roddy about the list and Chief Roddy said it would not help his department. It would potentially slow response times to incidents.
Chief Allen said that the information contained in the list will assist in keeping his 45-man department safer during the pandemic.
On March 21, four ERPD officers underwent self-quarantine after arresting a woman who was suspected of having COVID-19. The woman was taken from the Hamilton County Jail where she was showing symptoms of the virus and given a test at Erlanger hospital, officials said. It took almost two weeks for the test results on the woman to come back negative, and the four officers were allowed to go back to work on April 6.
Chief Allen said since that incident no other officers in the department have undergone self-quarantine or shown any illness associated with the virus.
Chief Allen said the department is taking precautions to keep staff safe. One of the precautions is not having all officers on any given shift have the traditional line-up. Another is being aware of social distancing inside the Fire and Police Service Center.
Chief Allen said these measures would continue “until we get back to normal.”