Saint John — Saint John City Police will now require all criminals to take a rapid COVID-19 test before being placed under arrest.
Police Chief Robert Bruce announced on Friday that this is in response to the police union’s concerns regarding working in an unsafe environment.
“Every worker in New Brunswick has the legal right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions. Obviously interacting with an individual that may be positive for COVID is unsafe, even with the use of personal protective equipment officers wear such as gloves or masks.”
Police will have test kits available in their vehicles to provide to criminals before an arrest. “We can leave the test kit on the doorstep and then go for a coffee to give the arrestee time to take the test and get the result,” Chief Bruce said.
President of the Police Union Constable Duane Squires explained to The Manatee that “executing an arrest is aggressive work, which typically involves a lot of pushing and shoving, wrestling around on the ground and really getting into the criminal’s face to yell threats. Officers are at risk because our masks can be dislodged while we exercise our self-importance in the discharge of our duty, exposing us to this nasty virus.”
The Chief acknowledged challenges to operations but said the force will adapt. “We are asking criminals for cooperation as we take them into custody. There will be a few challenges, such as our tactical response on drug raids and hostage situations. However, we have equipped the Armoured Response Vehicle with test kits stuffed inside tear gas canisters, which we will fire through windows. Suspects will be given time to take the tests and let us know the results before we continue with the forced entry and takedown.”
Local crime boss Butch McDonough expressed frustration when reached by reporters. “It is hard to keep up these ever-changing rules. I have encouraged my guys to be respectful of their victims…you know — wear a mask, keep six feet away and show proof of vaccination before committing a crime, whether you’re mugging an old lady, robbing a convenience store and especially if you’re selling drugs to kids. I see this as another tactic by police to make it harder to commit crime…it’s really unfair.”
Criminal justice advocate Ben Doolittle told The Manatee that COVID-19 has been tough on criminals. “For example, because of COVID, people are home all the time now, which has really made break-and-enters harder to commit.”
Doolittle also expressed concerns regarding consent. When our reporter asked Chief Bruce about this concern, he smiled and said, “Don’t worry — we have tazers.”
When contacted for comment, Law Society President Donna Booker simply exclaimed that she can envision all sorts of ridiculous situations happening. “What is going to happen at a roadside stop for suspicion of impaired driving? ‘Here, blow into this and stick this up your nose’?”