SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Many things about everyday life are difficult to navigate because of COVID-19. Local law enforcement officers are having to change the way they do their job and how they interact with the public as well.
“It is like everybody else, it is ever-changing is the problem, week to week,” said Capt. Chris Crowder with the South Charleston Police Department. “None of us have ever been through this.”
Crowder said the SCPD is making sure officers have what they need to stay safe.
“They are provided with masks and gloves and hand sanitizer and all that,” he said.
Crowder said when officers enter buildings where masks are mandatory they do comply with those rules. When they respond to calls mask usage varies.
“If they feel they need to wear it or are more comfortable then they are allowed to do that,” he said. “If they have some prior knowledge or after they’ve spoken to somebody there is any chance of them having something then we obviously prefer they go put it on.”
He said when it comes to routine things like traffic stops motorists can decide for themselves.
“If they are sick obviously we would prefer that they wear the mask. But if not it is kind of up to them and their preference,” he said.
They’ve also changed the way they respond to certain calls.
“When Metro gives us a call if it doesn’t require our physical presence we have them do it over the phone a little bit where sometimes we maybe would have responded,” he said. “But if it is something that can be done over the phone easily or there is not any kind of safety issue that helps both the person calling and us to not have to be around each other.”
The West Virginia State Police is handling the situation in a similar way.
They provided this statement: “The West Virginia State Police encourages all citizens to comply with the Governor’s protective equipment requirements. Troopers will be wearing masks as required by all mandates. During traffic stops, if the 6-foot distance is able to be maintained, troopers have the option to wear a mask, if closer contact is required, Troopers will utilize proper personal protective equipment.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published detailed guidance for law enforcement officers and other first responders when it comes to COVID-19. You can read that here.