Officers make adjustments during pandemic
ELKINS — The COVID-19 pandemic has made everything different for all of us and the same holds true for essential workers. Law enforcement officers are among those who have had to make some adjustments during these turbulent times.
“Our jobs haven’t really changed much, we’re still responsible for responding to calls and protecting people’s lives and property,” said Elkins Police Department Chief Travis Bennett. “We did notice a decline in calls for service through the first few months of the pandemic, but things seem to be getting back to a normal level now.”
Bennett said his department has taken all the necessary steps to make sure both officers and the public remain safe.
“We have taken precautions by wearing masks and having PPE available to all our officers,” he said. “And during the time when City Hall was closed we were trying to take as many complaints and statements by alternate means, such as email, fax and phone, when possible.”
Sgt. Chris Siler said the Elkins detachment of the West Virginia State Police took a similar approach.
“The biggest thing we did other than wearing the masks was limiting who could come in and our building,” he said. “For the first couple of months our office was locked down and we dealt with most of the people wanting to see us outside the building.
“Other than that, it was business as usual. We did cut down on some of the traffic stops for minor violations to limit any exposure to us. But things are a little bit closer to being back to normal now.”
Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady said his department was prepared even before the pandemic took hold in the community.
“We put deputies out in our rural communities as soon as everything started,” said Brady. “We wanted the people to know that we were still here and that they were going to be taken care of. We wanted to reassure them that they were going to be OK.”
Like other law enforcement agencies, Brady’s department took all the steps needed in order to protect everyone involved.
“We put measures in place to make sure everyone was safe from the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “We changed schedules to make sure everyone wasn’t around each other at the same time. That way if one deputy contracted the virus they wouldn’t contaminate everyone else. We used all the necessary PPE gear and worked with Randolph County Emergency Squad and the hospital to help with decontaminating our cruisers.”
Brady said during the early stages of the pandemic his department also made adjustments for those wanting to pay taxes through the sheriff’s office.
“We upgraded our online payment system and made it easier for people to pay things by mail,” he said. “We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to be able to still do the things they needed to do at the sheriff’s department.”
The sheriff’s office continues to adjust to any changes having to do with the coronavirus.
“We continue to change plans and make upgrades as needed,” said Brady. “We recently remodeled the front offices so people can now come in and pay taxes, see the assessor, or do whatever they need to do. We did that in order to accommodate the public and protect our employees.”
Brady said he couldn’t be more proud of the way the community has stepped up during these trying times.
“From the city and state police, to the hospital and the emergency squad, everyone has worked hard to help one another out,” he said. “We relied on each other and the community as a whole to be able to get as far as we have. The effort from everyone speaks highly of the community we live in.”