Police deal with coronavirus risks as they continue to protect their communities during pandemic

Police deal with coronavirus risks as they continue to protect their communities during pandemic

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Police have always been on the front lines of attacks on our cities, counties and states. But what happens when the danger is coming from a virus?

Police don’t have the option to work from home, and they’re right in the line of fire of the coronavirus, Ridgeland Police Chief John Neal says.

“They’re in that six-foot distance so any cough that comes out of the back seat or some kind of a sneeze or something like that, it’s got the potential to contaminate all the way up into the front seat,” Neal said.

Neal has to consider what happens with his department if someone is exposed. He said the measures might be drastic if an officer comes up sick.

“What my fear is is that if we had that kind of event happen up here, then we overreact an over panic. Obviously we want all our officers tested at that point in time," said Neal. "Starting with the people he’s in close contact with, all of his shift mates and stuff like that.”

Sgt. Jeff Thames says he hopes it really doesn’t come to a situation where officers need to be sent home for weeks at a time.

“It would be rough on us. We’re short already. He would immediately, and anybody in the building that was there, would have to be quarantined and we would probably have to call for assistance from the SO and Madison PD,” Thames said.

“I would feel certain that in the event that we had an outbreak in Madison County that affected law enforcement services we’d be able to go through city leaders and county leaders, and put some kind of MOU into place so we could share services,” Neal said.

Neal said the citizens of Ridgeland don’t have to worry that they won’t have the law enforcement protection they need during the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is first responders. This is law enforcement. This is the people who protect these are the heroes out there. We always stay til the end,” he said.

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