Keeping up with combating crime… and Covid

The Roseville Police Department adopts new methods to continue their public services in the midst of a pandemic.

Officer+Doug+Blake+teaches+an+online+training+course+due+to+Covid+restrictions.

Rob Baquera

Officer Doug Blake teaches an online training course due to Covid restrictions.

By Maggie Delaney, Granite Bay High School

Throughout the nation, thousands of 911 calls are made every day. Trained police officers are always at the ready to be at a scene of emergency, but with state and county restrictions that limit the amount of social interaction, police departments have struggled. 

The Roseville Police Department has seen an enormous change in the quality of their services because of safety precautions. 

Many employees at the RPD are not able to work from home, so the RPD has had to adapt to make their work environment as clean and safe as possible. 

Katie Braverman is a police services administrator at the RPD, and part of her main duty is to oversee the Records, CSI, and Property and Evidence units. This includes making sure that each of those units has the right equipment and tools that are necessary for them to do their job.

“Part of my challenge is (that) I have team members who can’t be remote, so I have to make sure they have the right equipment,” Braverman said. “We went out and bought sanitizer, laptops, and other resources for each different room.”

Along with that, the RPD’s quality of service has been affected because public hours were completely eliminated. In normal times, people could walk into the RPD and report crimes or talk to an officer if they needed. 

Terri Fox is Public Safety Dispatch Supervisor at the RPD, who was concerned about RPD’s inability to be openly available to the public. 

“Roseville Police has always prided itself on good customer service,” Fox said. “We are now referring most people to online reporting and those that need to talk to an officer, (can do so) by phone only.  In dispatch, we are having unusual struggles because we have to tell the public ‘no’, when they have always been used to face-to-face contact.”

Behind the RPD’s doors, the officers are struggling in efforts to find new ways to train their officers. A huge hurdle for the RPD was figuring out how to keep officers ready even during a pandemic. The reason why officers are always able to answer 911 calls is because they are constantly in training.

Doug Blake is an administrator for the RPD and has been working with the RPD since 2003. While Blake has numerous duties, one of them that has been severely impacted is his responsibility to keep up with the new standards of training set out by the state while also maintaining the safety restrictions that Covid-19 has caused. 

We had to completely re-engineer how we got together. It wasn’t efficient, but it was a way we could at least do something because operationally, those things were not stopping; we still have SWAT callouts, and we still have critical incidents even during Covid.”

— Doug Blake

“Conventionally, we would get together, sometimes 20-30 officers, in order to shoot firearms or practice tactics,” Blake said. “That all stopped.  We had to completely re-engineer how we got together. It wasn’t efficient, but it was a way we could at least do something because operationally, those things were not stopping; we still have SWAT callouts, and we still have critical incidents even during Covid.“

Despite it all though, officers are flexible. They are used to working long hours and holidays. Additionally, because a lot of police officers can not work from home, they have been grateful for being able to get outside and go to work. 

“There was a silver lining with being out during the start of the pandemic though,” Fox said.  “ I was able to put things into perspective because I wasn’t home for months getting inundated by the media, thus creating the fear and panic when people finally did start coming out of their homes.”

Unfortunately, there has been a serious increase in the number of child abuse cases – some that have even led to infant deaths –  and domestic violence cases during the pandemic. Being stuck at home has increased anxiety and stress levels that correlate to a higher consumption of alcohol and in some cases, drugs. 

“I think people forget the police go out and clean up (social issues brought by Covid as well),” Blake said. “We have health and human service workers that come out with us during (those) calls.”

Despite the setbacks, police departments, such as the RPD, are still trying to figure out ways to pull through during these challenging times. 

This story was originally published on GraniteBayToday.org on December 1, 2020.