Sylvan Lake RCMP have faced some changes in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, however it has not affected how policing is done.
Jeff McBeth, staff sergeant at the Sylvan Lake detachment, says there have been changes at the local detachment to help protect staff, officers and the public.
One such change is closing the doors to the public during the outbreak.
“Sadly our detachment door is closed, so our access to the public is very, very limited and that is done for many reasons,” McBeth said.
McBeth added keeping the number of people coming into the detachment at a minimum helps to keep the virus from spreading and keeping both the staff and public safe during the outbreak.
Another step taken during the outbreak has been to reduce the number of office staff working in the building.
“We’ve also reduced our office staff to some degree., but reduce our footprint at the detachment can minimize how many direct contacts people have to have,” said McBeth.
He says this changes is to keep RCMP members out on the street and operating to their full capacity.
COVID-19 is new territory for everyone, police included. The virus has changed how officers interact with others, but not how they are policing the area.
For instance, officers maintain social distancing when dealing with the public. Another aspect that has changed for RCMP officers is additional protective wear.
McBeth says officers have added the use of protective gloves, masks and face shields to their arsenal of protective gear during intereactions with others.
He says the RCMP are at a significant risk during the outbreak because their work takes officers out into the public.
“We are often looking at our risks of what danger we are put in physically. Going through a pandemic like this with COVID-19 it’s new territory when you look at how our officers are responding in the community,” McBeth said.
While considered a front line worker, McBeth says the work they do is nothing compared to the doctors, nurses and janitorial staff working at hospitals and clinics everyday.
“As a citizen of this community, not jsut as the detachment commander of the RCMP I am so grateful for those people and the job that they do. They are the ones that are putting themselves into such great danger trying to keep everyone healthy and safe.”
It is during times of hardship, like the current pandemic, that allows a community to truly appreciate those working as frontline workers, according to McBeth.
During a pandemic those who work as a front line staff, such as nurses, officers and grocery clerks and all those invovled in a situation like the current pandemic, are put into the public eye and are noticed more, he says.
“I like to believe they are always appreciated, it is just times like this that I think people are a little more vocal about that appreciation.”
During the outbreak, McBeth says the community has shown their support for the local RCMP officers and detachment.
This was especially true after the shooting in Nova Scotia, and the death of RCMP officer, Const. Heidi Stevenson, earlier in April.
“We have seen such an outpouring of support from our community. It has been phenomenal. People leaving flowers at the flag poles when they were lowered at half mast…,” McBeth said.
McBeth also added members of the community have also called in to see if the staff needed anything dropped off for them.
“We’ve always known that we have the support of our community, but it’s times [like now] that we really, really get to see how lucky we are to be in this area…”