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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Northgate district right adjacent to the Texas A&M campus houses a street of bars and other restaurants.  
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Essential employees risk health to serve community

Photo by Meredith Seaver

Brazos County Sheriff Deputy Terry Smith, College Station PD Officer Robbie Turner, Bryan PD Sgt. Ryan Bona and Texas A&M UPD Lt. Bobby Richardson are a few members of local law enforcement that participated in Beard it Up to raise funds for The Cure Starts Now-Central Texas. Their respective departments are all continuing to work as essential employees after the COVID-19 outbreak.

During trying times, those sworn to serve are facing some challenges in the wake of the coronavirus.
Many departments in Brazos County have been working with local government and health officials to combat COVID-19. However, because of their contact with many people in the community, first responders from these departments are more at risk of contracting the virus than others.
KBTX reported on April 3 three Bryan Police Department officers tested positive for COVID-19. The officers were said to have very mild cases of the virus and should recover quickly.
“The department says they are reasonably confident that these officers did not have interactions with the public as officers,” the KBTX report said.
Bryan PD public information officer Kelley McKethan said no more officers at her department have contracted the virus, and the conditions of those infected are improving.
“They’re doing really well, and are getting close to returning,” McKethan said. “We’re in the process of getting them here.”
A March 14 press release from Bryan PD, College Station Police Department, Texas A&M University Police Department and Brazos County Sheriff’s Office said first responders are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the virus and will continue to do so.
“The men and women of your local Emergency Public Safety agencies are committed to providing the best and safest service to residents and visitors to our communities and your assistance in these times is greatly appreciated,” the press release said.
McKethan said the nature of the job is still the same, but a few extra precautions have been implemented to ensure the safety of officers and citizens.
“Obviously we’re taking a lot of precautions,” McKethan said. “We have a lot of protocols in place now. We’re trying to practice social distancing like the rest of the world, and we have strict cleaning procedures in place for our vehicles and our department. The common areas that are being used, we have to make sure we’re cleaning those regularly.”
Like many departments and businesses in the county, Bryan PD has been making use of personal protective equipment, and then some. McKethan said they have specific supplies for more severe circumstances.
“We have big issues of personal protective equipment to be used when it’s appropriate,” McKethan said. “If not, then we’ll always wear gloves, we’ll always wear masks, but when they need to they have those available. It is a little bit more difficult, but we’re still doing the same job we’ve always done.”
Before the officers respond, however, the call center is asking extra questions to the callers regarding their state of health to determine if the officers are at risk or if they need to take extra steps, such as using specific personal protective equipment.
“The dispatch center is asking questions of every caller to see if anyone is exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19 before an officer responds,” McKethan said. “We are also trying to take more of the reports over the phone that don’t necessarily need an officer present. We’re doing a lot of different things to help safeguard the community as well as our officers.”
McKethan said staying positive is the key to ensuring safety, so long as that positive is not on a medical test.
“Our job is always difficult, regardless of COVID-19, so it just kind of adds another layer and we just make sure that we keep our hopes up and keep our spirits up, and be safe while we’re doing our job so that we don’t contract the virus and take it home,” McKethan said. “That’s our biggest goal.”

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