Governor Doug Ducey issued a declaration of a Public Health State of Emergency on March 11, 2020 regarding a proactive measures to protect against COVID-19 and on March 23, 2020, he issued an Executive Order clarifying businesses and operations deemed essential. Then on March 30, 2020, he issued a “stay at home order” limiting Arizonan’s time away from home except for conducting and participating in essential activities, for employment, to volunteer or participate in essential functions; or to utilize any services or products provided by essential business services.
One downside to this order was that a number of businesses have been severely impacted because they either had to shut down completely or provide limited services. Restaurants are part of the latter because they are only allowed to provide takeout food.
First responders, including police officers, have been put in a very unique position amidst this order because of the nature of our jobs. Patrol officers can’t telecommute and spend the majority of their shift on the street, because they have to be available to respond to calls for service. Patrol officers are already limited by department policy when it comes to taking meal breaks, and now more than ever, they have even more restrictions placed on them due to the availability of places to eat. Per policy, patrol officers have to clear on the radio to request permission to eat and if granted, they are allowed 30 minutes, but can combine that with one of their 15 minute breaks for a total of 45 minutes if conditions allow it. They must take their meal break within the first 8 hours of their shift, are restricted to taking their meal within their squad area, unless adequate eating facilities are available and they must get approval from a supervisor to cross squad or precinct boundaries to eat.
Today, PLEA learned about an article published in the Phoenix Business Journal which included a photograph of a uniformed officer eating at Z’s Greek Restaurant on East Indian School Road, which we believe portrayed our officer and Z’s Greek in a negative manner. We certainly appreciate a small business owner showing his support for those who do a very difficult job and and don’t have the ability to stay home during this pandemic.