A 9-1-1 dispatcher for the Detroit Police Department died Monday due to the new coronavirus. The man was 38 years old and had no underlying health conditions, according to Police Chief James Craig. The man was admitted to a hospital in the metro Detroit area with respiratory issues and was subsequently tested for COVID-19, but his test results didn’t come back as positive until after his death.
According to Craig, the man was a Detroit city employee for eleven years, working for DDOT for three years before working for DPD for another eight. He then worked as an emergency services deployment operator.
“Make no mistake, our 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers are indeed first responders. He was a first responder.”
Craig says he was able to talk to the man’s parents, and called him an “excellent, dedicated” member of the staff.
“He was beloved, he was respected by all who worked with him. On a personal note, he loved to cook lasagna! He loved to travel, he was planning a trip to see his brother in Las Vegas, but he couldn’t do that. He will be truly missed.”
Detroit mayor Mike Duggan says this emphasizes the importance of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.
“It is not just elderly people who are dying of this disease. There is something about it that's attacking the airways that younger individuals are affected severely as well, and it is critical that we respect social distance rules. We’re all going to wonder, as a country, if we hadn’t put those social distance rules in some weeks earlier, if we wouldn’t have a lot of our citizens still with us.”
In May of 2018, the city built a new communications center for the DPD. According to Duggan, Craig insisted that they needed a backup as well in case of a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other extraordinary event. The backup center was built and kept operational, and is now what the DPD is using while the main center is sanitized.
“As soon as we learned about our call taker being positive for COVID-19, the department literally packed up and moved in a very short period of time to the other center, so that we could do a deep clean of the communication department here.”
Both Duggan and Craig confirmed that of the over 200 Detroit police officers who were quarantined, nine had tested positive for COVID-19.