For RCMP officers working the frontlines policing the Comox Valley during COVID-19, their commitment to keeping the community safe hasn’t changed.
Despite some challenges presented to police work during the pandemic, Const. Monika Terragni, spokesperson for the Comox Valley detachment, says the jobs of members have not shifted, and they are all committed to protecting the community they serve.
“We have changed some things around the detachment to allow more space between people and there are a few people who have been able to do some work from home, (however), in terms of overall policing, our job has not changed.”
While their roles may stay the same, the impact of COVID-19 has been felt by all police officers in a different way.
“The pandemic has presented a challenge for everyone in the community that we have not faced before. We are all police officers but also community members,” Terragni explained.
“Our job hasn’t changed; however, we all have families and they’ve been affected in so many different ways by the pandemic. Many members are dealing with children out of school or daycare, care of elderly family members, partners being laid off and much more. We have all had to find a new balance between work and our own individual situations during the pandemic.”
Despite what other municipalities may be noticing during the pandemic, Terragni noted the Valley has not seen much of a shift in overall crime rates. Additionally, officers have not seen a spike in property crime that other jurisdictions are reporting compared to this time last year, she said.
In terms of personal protective equipment, members have always used PPE during their work, however, members have started asking a few more questions before attending scenes so that officers can be prepared.
“People will find that when they call the police, before an officer attends, they will be asked about how they’re feeling and if there are any indications the police officer might be exposed to COVID-19. So, if you’re calling in to report a break and enter, you will probably be asked how you’re feeling,” noted Terragni.
Another tool available to residents is the Online Crime Reporting System, where residents and business owners from the Comox Valley, with a valid email address, can use their computers, smartphone or tablets to report a crime, such as damage/mischief under $5,000 to property, hit and run to unoccupied vehicle or property, and theft under $5,000.
During the pandemic, Terragni says officers have felt all of the support offered by residents in the Comox Valley, something she describes as “heartwarming.”
“Businesses have donated food, coffee, flowers, hand sanitizer and so much more. People are taking the time to smile and thank us, whether it is when we are out doing patrol, getting some lunch or even at home during our time off. These smiles make a difference, especially if that police officer is having a tough day or just went to a tough call.”