For Max Enriquez Suarez, a police officer in Guilford County, North Carolina, his work is much the same. He continues to answer calls for service, report to crimes and accidents on his assigned beat, and perform traffic stops and wellness checks.
“Obviously in times like now, we ramp-up those special check-ups more frequently,” said Suarez.
But homes that police officers would normally go into for calls are often now being handled by phone. And if there is a report of a body, there are now strict safety procedures in place.
“Those now we take very serious precautions with our PPE (personal protective equipment) gear to go in and investigate those found bodies,” he said.
Before the pandemic, the protocol called for police officers to secure the scene for firefighters and paramedics. Now, it’s the opposite.
“Now they’re almost the reverse role,” said Suarez. “Where they’re doing that for us, to make sure that the scene is secure for any possible exposures.”
On the positive side, some issues and crimes seem to be decreasing.
“People are not out and about, getting into car accidents, getting into arguments at stores, or stealing from stores that are closed down,” said Suarez.
However there is an increase in calls regarding domestic violence.
“They’ve always been a top three for calls for service,” he said. “But now they are definitely number one.”
If an assault has been committed, he said, police arrest the primary aggressor. If the issue is verbal, officers would attempt separate the couple.
“Since they’re still pretty heated enough to call us, we don’t want them, as soon as we leave, to get right back into it and have it turn into an actual physical confrontation,” he said.
“Our job is to make sure everyone is safe and make sure no crime was committed,” he added. “But we can’t force anyone to leave their home so that’s just an encouragement we give them. If they need a ride, we provide a ride for them as long as it’s within city limits.”
Suarez said he watches press conferences and reads updates about the pandemic daily. He isn’t too nervous about continuing to work during the COVID-19 pandemic because he’s not in the high-risk groups, such as the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.
“If I had a mother and father that I lived with, then I would feel a little different,” he said.
Suarez, who helps train recruits, said the process is continuing in his department so as not to delay it. But there are downsides.
“I’m a field training officer at work, so I have someone in my car for the 10 hours that I work,” he said. “Which is obviously not very conducive with the whole social distancing guidelines that are going on now.”