SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) — Policing in a world possibly affected by the COVID-19 virus is changing how police do their job.
In Spring Hill, officers not only have to look for crime, but they also have to recognize the symptoms of the coronavirus and be on guard.
Starting Friday, every officer in Spring Hill was given an N95 mask, eye protection, and a bottle of Clorox Bleach Wipe for their squad cars.
Detective Mike Foster says, “these were just delivered as a precautionary measure to help combat this virus that’s going around,” Foster says while showing News 2 the items.
Foster says that the safeguards will come in handy in most normal situations, but there are times, unpredictable moments, when officers may have to become physical with suspects.
“If it is hands on physical, obviously there won’t be time to put on all this. There’s inherent risks and dangers to this job that we have to accept. That is just part of it, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do everything to help prevent the spread of any infectious disease.”
News 2 spent much of Thursday talking to multiple jails about their precautions for prisoners, and guards and staff in the jails.
Cheatham County Jail officials tell News 2 they are more thoroughly screening all incoming inmates.
Foster says the way officers deal with the jails will also be modified based on the suspects.
“Absolutely. If we arrest someone who is exhibiting symptoms or says hey I’m positive, we’ll have to call that jail’s booking and let them know we are on the way, and ask them what do you want us to do, what protocols do you want us to follow?”
Foster also says the way traffic stops and other normal interactions could be amended to include social distancing to minimize possible transmission of Covid 19.
Foster says, “In the back of your mind you might be thinking, is this person driving to the hospital, or are they infected, are they coughing sneezing do they have a fever? We are taught to look for signs of criminal behavior, so now we have to look for signs of illness.”
When asked if policing in a world of COVID-19 is harrowing, Foster said this.
“It is nerve racking but it is something we are use to dealing with. We are asked to do a lot nowadays, wear a lot of hats and this is just another hat we have to wear.” The job is inherently dangerous, so this is another precaution we are aware of that we have to take.”
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.