MANILA – Guidelines are now in place to ensure the safety of police officers in various operations amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) has initiated the publication of the ‘Revised PNP First Responders’ Manual under the New Normal’ to emphasize the observance of minimum health standards in a crime scene, modified duty rotation of mobile and beat patrollers, orientation of safety health safety protocols and proper use of protective equipment.

He added that the PNP will also maximize the use of information and communications technology in its operations.

“Digital law enforcement ensures the faster exchange of information and tactical accuracy on the ground,” Gamboa said in a press conference in Camp Crame.

He said there had been no letup in the PNP’s law enforcement operations during the 75-day imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March until May and during the ongoing general community quarantine (GCQ).

“Law enforcement operations during the 75-day ECQ period and the continuing GCQ have exposed our police personnel to the risk of infection such that there had been 499 confirmed Covid-19 cases among PNP personnel,” Gamboa added.

He added that a similar Revised Manual for Police Investigators is also being finalized to better equip crime investigators with investigative tools and technology that will not only minimize the risk of exposure to the Covid-19 but will also enhance their capacity to “solve and monitor cases, serve court processes and harmonize the functions of the criminal justice system”.

The ‘PNP Investigator’s Handbook in the New Normal’ contains the general principles of investigation and the general investigative procedures that will serve as an updated “go-to guide” for all investigators who respond to crime incidents.

Gamboa said the reformulation of the PNP’s police response guidelines aims to ensure the health and safety of policemen and the general public, continue investigative and detective services and strengthen and upgrade the PNP’s investigative function and capability.

“We firmly believe that it is in protecting our own personnel that the PNP is able to protect and serve the Filipino people better,” said Gamboa.

As some restrictions on mass transportation were eased beginning Monday, Gamboa said the PNP will continue to be vigilant in enforcing the minimum health standards such as wearing face masks, physical distancing, and curbing non-essential travel and other acts that may pose threat to public health. (ia/PNA)