They serve and protect, but police officers are changing the way they do their jobs because of the coronavirus.
The biggest change: less face-to-face contact.
Cape Coral Master Cpl. Andrew Satterlee is one of those taking extra precautions, especially during traffic stops.
“Be more cognizant of what they’re handing you, so for example, in this traffic stop that I just did, make sure to wash your hands down with something, soap and water or the hand sanitizer the department issues us.”
But responding to serious offenses, like domestic violence, requires officers to suit up differently. They have face masks and gloves to protect themselves.
Policing is changing in other ways that demand we adjust.
“We’re cutting down on the number of calls we’re responding to because minor calls such as fraudulent use of a credit card or identity theft are all being handled over the phone,” said Master Cpl. Phil Mullen.
The coronavirus represents a new risk.
“We worry about job-related risk all the time, it’s always a constant thing, families always worry about us; this is just a different kind of risk so we have to mitigate that risk,” Mullen said.
That doesn’t change a police officer’s mission.
“Just because of the virus, we’re not gonna stop doing what we have to do,” Satterlee said.
The Cape Coral and Fort Myers police departments have closed their lobbies and suspended fingerprinting services.
While they’re cutting back face-to-face contact, the departments both say they will still come to you if you feel you’re in danger.