Law Enforcement Segment
I have been asked a couple of times about how law enforcement is handling the pandemic, how are the officers staying safe, and what is going on behind the scenes, so I thought I would touch on a few things because people are curious.
What is going on in an officer's mind during this time of pandemic risks?
Well, pretty much the same thing that goes on in their minds when there isn't a global pandemic raking across the world. Getting home safely to their families, protecting their fellow officers, and mitigating the safety risks as much as possible.
Everyday, officers have to deal with people who have any number of diseases; hepatitis, AIDS, HIV, the flu, heart-worms, rabies.....oh wait, I got off track. Anyway, you see my point. The difference with the Coronavirus is there is no immunization like the flu and hepatitis have, and it is spread much easier than AIDS and HIV. The threat is always there for officers and it is always in the back of their mind, but they have a sworn an oath to do their jobs and take those risks to protect their communities. And for 99% of law enforcement officers, that oath means everything.
The oath of office that peace officers take is not just a ceremony and a photo op. The oath is a promise to themselves. It is a challenge to themselves. It is what guides them in everything they do. That oath is the rope when an officer is rappelling off a 5-story building during SWAT school. If it breaks, your world is over. (I loved SWAT school up until that moment!)
To be a police officer is to have a job where you take risks every minute of every shift. What other job is there, besides a soldier in wartime, where people will kill you simply because you wear a uniform? There's not many. So the Coronavirus is just another risk added to the pile for officers.
What are officers doing to protect themselves from the virus when they have contact with so many people?
Whatever they can do that doesn't interfere with their ability to perform their job as safely as possible.
They are wearing gloves as much as possible. They have face masks they will utilize at certain times. They have put in place protocols for cleaning their uniforms, boots, equipment, and their hands and faces.
From the top down, the orders are to only make contact with people when necessary. No unnecessary traffic stops, no security walk-through's at businesses, no Class C arrests, and only Class A and B Misdemeanor arrests approved by the Sergeants, Lieutenants, or Captains. No lunches anywhere except the station. They are spraying down the interior of their cars multiple times a day with Lysol. Handcuffs will be sprayed down with disinfectant, as will all the rest of their gear multiple times per shift. Some smaller departments are even keeping their officers at the station until they receive a call for service.
What is going on behind the scenes in the administration conference rooms and offices?
The short answer..........They are crapping their pants.
Aside from the concern that (most) police chiefs have for their officers, all they can think about is how to keep their department's up and running if they lose officers to sickness or quarantine. (If it is one of the chief's I use to work for, all he can think about is doing whatever it takes to keep himself from having to go out on the street and do police work.)
Think about this.... The majority of police departments in the country are small departments. Many, many departments around the country have between 10 and 20 officers that make up the department. A regular shift for these agencies are roughly 2 or 3 officers and a Sergeant on-duty at all times. So, as you can see, only losing 2 or 3 officers actually eliminates an entire patrol shift from the department. If you lose an entire shift, then you have to pull officers from the other shifts, which causes them to be short-handed. It's a domino effect that can quickly devastate an organization.
Oh, and if you think for one minute that the criminals don't know this information, you are wrong. I've busted criminals who knew which officers were on which shifts, as well as the times of shift changes. I have literally had criminals tell me that they know which days it's safer to "do what they do" because those are the days that the "lazy shifts are on". So, not only do department heads have to worry about the virus and the officers, but they have to worry about the thieves and burglars hitting their towns also.
Will police officers ignore speeders, red-light runners, etc because they don't want to have contact with them?
No. If you are doing something dangerous, you will get stopped if an officer sees you.
I hope I have answered a few of the questions that people are wondering about. As always, if you have specific police or law enforcement questions, head over to my "Ask A Cop" page and send them to me via messenger and I will give you a straight, (sometimes brutally) honest, no BS answer. You can find that page right here.