Erie cops at protest weren’t quarantined, were ‘exercising abundance of caution,’ city police chief says

(Capital-Star photo by Hannah McDonald)

ERIE, Pa.– Erie’s police chief says officers called to the scene of downtown protests last weekend weren’t “quarantined,” but were rather exercising “an abundance of caution” after a prior incident when officers came into contact “a COVID-19 positive individual who’d resisted arrest.”

The five officers were following orders “to stay home,” Police Chief Daniel Spizarny told the Capital-Star in an email. The officers — none of whom had exhibited signs of COVID-19 “nor any illness” according to Spizarny — were at home on a “police department administrative stay at home order” the night of the protests on State Street

Spizarni’s clarification Thursday came in response to a joint news conference Monday with Mayor Joe Schemberm, where the city’s top cop was questioned about the five, off-duty officers.

At the time, Spizarny said the five officers were called in from “quarantine” to dispel the protest. He did not clarify how the verbage was being used. 

Instead he told the press, “Every available body was called in. They returned and masked-up.”

When they were on the scene the night of May 30, the officers “maintained masks on and when deployed to the front lines they converted from their N95 masks to gas masks,” Spizarny said. 

Following the incident, the officers in question all “continue to remain healthy and show no signs of illness,” Spizarny told the Capital-Star.

Correspondent Hannah McDonald covers Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow her on Twitter @HannahMcD0nald.