Cal-OSHA fines Santa Rosa police $32,000 for COVID-19 violations

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- The Santa Rosa Police Department has responded to charges from Cal-OSHA that it could have prevented the death of a detective from COVID-19 earlier this year.

The memorial to Santa Rosa Police Detective MaryLou Armer is on the wall, visible to anyone who visits Santa Rosa Police Headquarters. She died of COVID-19 last March, as the department says, "In the Line of Duty."

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Now, the department has received yet another reminder and not a pleasant one.

It came in the form of citations and $32,000 in fines from Cal-OSHA, in connection with Detective Armor's death and eight other COVID-19 cases from last winter.

Among the complaints:
  • A failure to report her illness and those of other officers

  • Failure to comply with proper screening procedures

  • Failure to properly fit masks, face piece and barriers

A claim that SRPD allowed symptomatic officers to return to work without testing

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Chief Rainer Navarro had not yet to see the document as of Wednesday morning.

"The recommendations and guidelines have changed. And every single time there is a recommendation to change, we put it into place. All of these alleged violations happened early in the pandemic," he said.

Cal-OSHA was more direct.

"Cal-OSHA does not issue citations without evidence of health and safety violations," said a spokesperson. "Workers had not been sufficiently protected. Employers are expected to take appropriate steps to protect them."

"Since March we have not had any positive cases," said Chief Navarro.

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The department responded Tuesday, by providing video and photos of its daily COVID-19 precautions. From officers checking their temperatures before reporting in, to briefings taking place outside, to officers cleaning hands, their boots, and their police cruisers before and between shifts.

Detective Armer's family did not return calls from ABC7 News.

The police union did not comment.

As for whether Chief Navarro will dispute the citations or just move on and pay them he wouldn't say.

"It is always frustrating when you know your team is doing their best and something like this happens."

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