Libby Police Department back at full strength

Editor | October 9, 2020 7:00 AM

The Libby Police Department has returned to full strength following a potential outbreak of coronavirus in the agency last month.

Police Chief Scott Kessel told Libby City Council on Oct. 5 that an officer sickened by the virus had returned to work.

“We are at full staff,” he said, calling in to the meeting via Zoom. “Nobody currently has the sniffles and we can keep it that way.”

Kessel alerted city councilors to the possible coronavirus outbreak during the body’s Sept. 8 meeting. At that time, he confirmed the case in his department, but said the officer had limited contact with his colleagues.

Kessel listed himself as a potential close contact and reported that he had placed himself in isolation while awaiting test results. The department was prepared to work with other local law enforcement, including the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, to offset the potential short-term loss of personnel, he said.

At the Oct. 5 meeting, Kessel said service calls and arrests had fallen from a year ago, but citations were up. The department logged 299 service calls in September, as opposed to 313 in 2019. Citations rose from 40 in 2019 to 56 this year. Arrests, meanwhile, fell from 25 to 16.

Kessel noted that the pandemic likely affected the department’s arrest figures.

“We still are not able to put most people in jail except for the violent offenders and that’s going to minimize some of the arrest numbers and create a little more work for the city attorney, just because he’s got to go after some of these warrants for us,” Kessel told city councilors.