Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office tracking potential areas of COVID-19 exposure in department

There are still homicides to solve and burglars to catch, but the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is also taking on another type of investigation. 

They've formed a special COVID-19 Investigative Unit just to track potential exposure in their department to coronavirus.

Lieutenant Stephen Lopez said, "This is a scary time for everybody. Everybody is concerned, including law enforcement."

So far 11 staff members and 1 inmate in Santa Clara County have tested positive for the virus. 

The unit's goal is to track exactly who they came in contact with.
The deputies do it, in part, by analyzing footage from jail and body-worn cameras.

Deputy Courtney Bryan said,  "We're going through hours and hours of footage just trying to identify anyone who maybe they didn't realize it at the time had any exposure to respiratory droplets through coughing or sneezing. You know there's a lot of interaction obviously in a custody setting."

And so each interaction is documented. And those who have been exposed are quarantined and tested. 

Lopez said, "Ultimately we're tracking the exposures, mitigating the potential exposures so that we can keep our people safe, the inmate population safe." 

Operations are run out of the department's Incident Command Center,
where they're making sure protective gear and staffing levels are adequate.

Additionally, the sheriff's office has launched a virus response team that helps with high-risk calls and decontamination if need be.

Bryan said, "We have to keep on going on. What we do is very important and vital and we have to do it on a day to day basis and we need people to be healthy and ready for that."