AUGUSTA, GA ( WJBF) — A report released Monday by a group that tracks officer deaths in the line of duty found more officers died in 2020 from COVID-19 than from all other causes combined.
Law enforcement agencies across the state are taking precautions like providing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer for deputies
“What we control is to make sure that our officers know to wear their PPE and always mask up and wash their hands if they’re going to a situation,” Richmond County Lt. Col. Calvin Chew said.
Some are also changing how they handle calls – both the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office are limiting interactions with the public by responding to some calls over the phone.
” For example, if its something minor like a damaged mailbox or a minor theft, we ask can we handle this call over the phone or do we need to send you a deputy in person. At that point they make the decision and if they can handle it over the phone we try to do that just to keep our distance and try to keep our deputies safe,” Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Andy Shedd said.
Law enforcement officers are also included in Phase 1a of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Richmond county sheriff Richard Roundtree and Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams both received their first doses of the vaccine last week and the vaccine has been made available to deputies as well.
” We are encouraging them to do whatever it is that you can to make sure that you are safe and your family members are safe,” Burke County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Randall Norman said.
However, Richmond County deputies said even with the vaccine they are still urging officers to take precautions and wear masks.
” You can’t let your guard down especially with this virus. So, you have to keep wearing your mask and being protected. You have to be vigilant about that and making sure that you’re safe.”