Toronto police Chief James Ramer tests positive for COVID-19
Published Friday, December 17, 2021 9:20AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 17, 2021 10:35PM EST
James Ramer, Toronto's chief of police, is isolating at home after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed Ramer's condition in a statement released Friday evening.
TPS said the chief got tested for COVID-19 even though he was asymptomatic out of an abundance of caution given his regular visits to officers and members of the community.
"I am feeling well and continue to work while I isolate at home," Ramer said in a statement.
"I am fully vaccinated, and I will continue to take all necessary precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19. I would encourage everyone to do the same. Get fully vaccinated including a booster shot, practice physical distancing and wear your mask."
TPS said Ramer remains asymptomatic and is working with Toronto Public Health and the Wellness Unit to notify close contacts.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he spoke to Ramer and wished him a quick and complete recovery.
"He's continuing on the job while isolating at home and encouraging everyone to get fully vaccinated including a booster, practice physical distancing and wear your mask," Tory said in a statement.
"Now is the time for everyone to be cautious and careful."
Speaking to CP24 Friday afternoon, Ramer said 2021 had been another challenging year in policing as the pandemic continues to rage on.
With the spread of the Omicron variant, the chief said they are taking steps to ensure that Toronto police can continue to operate and serve the city.
"We're really having to look at the potential of 10, 20, 30 per cent of our membership sick at one time. And so, we're having to look at that reality and develop exigencies on how we're going to respond," Ramer said.
He added that while there is no shortage of police officers at this time, he is worried that Omicron "has a significant potential to change that."
That's why Ramer said TPS is committed to getting all officers fully vaccinated as well as getting them their booster shot. As of Nov. 30, TPS said almost 98 per cent of its 7,415 employees had disclosed their COVID-19 vaccine status in compliance with their mandatory vaccination policy.
Of those individuals, roughly 98 per cent were fully vaccinated. TPS said 205 employees were placed on unpaid leave after they failed to comply with the mandate.
"The public doesn't have the choice sometimes when we're involved. We need to ensure that our people are as safe as possible and being fully vaccinated in my view is essential," he said.
Ramer's positive COVID-19 test comes as several officers from a downtown police station are currently isolating at home as they await their COVID-19 test results.
TPS confirmed to CP24 Friday morning that members of 51 Division, located at Front and Parliament streets, are currently isolating and awaiting PCR test results due to COVID-19 protocols.
"We can confirm that some members of the Service are currently isolating, awaiting PCR test results," TPS Spokesperson Meaghan Gray said in a statement.
"The public can be assured that the Service is continuing to prioritize frontline and priority response to ensure public safety is not impacted."
The exact number of officers isolating is unknown.
The potential outbreak comes as the service temporarily closed all buildings to the public as of Friday in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
TPS says all buildings will remain closed to the public until further notice.
"The closure does not apply to anyone who is attending a Service facility for the purpose of providing fingerprints. You will be screened upon arrival and, if necessary, your appointment will be rescheduled at that time," TPS wrote in a statement on Thursday.
Ramer said closing TPS buildings is a way to protect officers as the Omicron variant spreads.
"We're really reverting back to what we did early on in the pandemic to try to keep our people safe so they can be at work and keep their family safe," he said.
The public is encouraged to contact their local divisions or the non-emergency line at 416-808-2222 for assistance.
Residents can also use the service's online reporting system for incidents such as damage to vehicle or property under $5,000, driving or parking complaints, traffic issues or concerns, graffiti, or theft or fraud under $5,000.