City of Pasadena (CA) Police Department
As Chief of Police in the City of Pasadena (CA), I, along with all of my other colleagues in law enforcement, am responsible for guiding our police agency in this difficult time, as well as provide public safety services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This national emergency is unlike any other emergency or crisis law enforcement has ever prepared for. As many of us experienced the ’92 civil unrest as well as managed the many challenges of the post 9/11 environment, the lessons learned from those experiences are quickly assisting us in striking the right balance between protecting the safety of our officers, their families, and providing essential public safety services to our community. The inability to ensure we have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential supplies elevates the situation as well as the challenges of leading our workforces in these trying times.
Here is what we have experienced after nearly a month and I hope sharing this provides an understanding that we are in this together.
These are the worries all Police Chiefs and Sheriffs are confronting in our Departments:
- Managing fears inside of our own Organizations and within the community is first on this list.
- There is a high degree of public fear as we confront an enemy we cannot see nor hear and the future seems uncertain.
- The public is fearful of civil unrest, rumors of military deployment, concerns for family members they cannot visit, as well as the real impact to our economy.
- The news doesn’t make it easier with issues seen in other countries where bodies are placed in the streets for pickup. The level of fear is magnified with global events of how COVID 19 is being managed.
- There are concerns and fears for police departments not being prepared as our officers want strong communication and leadership as we develop changes to our workforces and field procedures.
- Our Officers want assurance they are being supported and that efforts are underway to protect them in the field and in our police stations.
- This creates a feeling of a lack of control, low self-confidence, and concern for emotional well-being for first responders. These emotions derive from the same officer safety issues our profession has always encountered prior to COVID 19, but now includes our contact with everyone in the public and how we respond to calls for service and make arrests.
- We also finish our longer workdays by cleansing thoroughly before or upon after arriving home with the lingering thought “Am I bringing it home to my family?”