Police officers are regularly on the front lines, but their work takes on a new urgency and new risks in the wake of coronavirus, according to a feature on ABC News.
Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum articulated the unique challenges of the field in an interview: “It’s not entirely possible for the police to practice social distancing the way community members get to. They, by definition, have to interact with the community. So how do you have them interact with the community? And also keep them healthy.”
Unlike many other public service fields, however, police routinely train for pandemics and other high urgency situations, and so have exhibited admirable preparedness. In Washington State, an epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, for example, “police department[s] [have] extensive training and preparedness plans in place for officers,’ reports ABC News.
“All of our officers…went through extensive training, and we’ve reaffirmed that training and have personal protection gear and we have steps in place to help prevent exposure,” Meeghan Black, Bellvue, Washington Police Department’s public information officer told ABC News in an interview. She explains that “We are a highly trained department and so that de-escalation and just listening and, practicing those good social distancing skills and explaining to a resident why we are doing this and that this is for their protection” and that the effect on policing in the community is noticeable.
Read more about how police in Washington and across the country are preparing to take care of their communities during the coronavirus here.