VENICE, Ill. – A COVID-19 outbreak has shut down a St. Louis-area police department. Patrol cars in Venice, Illinois, are idle but the mayor tells FOX 2 that police are still keeping watch over the town. Only the department’s two dispatchers are still working.
The nine-member force is already down to just three officers and the chief because of officers leaving for other jobs and a nationwide shortage of new police recruits, according to Mayor Tyrone Echols.
The remaining few are under quarantine for at least another week after at least two of them tested positive for the virus, Echols said. No one was seriously ill.
“Listen, there’s over 600,000 people dead in this country, so I know COVID is real, and it can flare up anywhere and anytime,” Echols said.
The mayor’s biggest concern is not the number of calls generated in town. There aren’t that many.
Most police trouble in Venice comes from the outside and people crossing the McKinley Bridge, which links Venice to North St. Louis City.
Earlier this month, a police officer from neighboring Brooklyn, Illinois, was struck and killed during a police pursuit from Brooklyn headed across the bridge into St. Louis.
Illinois State Police, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, and Madison, Illinois, law enforcement are teaming up to patrol the town of about 1,900 people.
“We can serve notice on every devil in hell and in Venice that we are covered,” Echols said. “We actually have what I would call the ‘supreme court’ of law enforcement that has banded together to protect us.”
The mayor has already mandated mask wearing for all who enter Venice City Hall and is now considering an executive order to require vaccines for the town’s nearly two dozen workers.