Wear a mask, social distance at least six feet, wash your hands every 15 minutes—these are all precautions that are now a small part of “the new normal.” Businesses, schools, and everyday life as we know it is being impacted by COVID. This global pandemic can pose as a great stressor for every person all over the world. But what about for those whose job requires them to be around everyone, everywhere? Captain Randall Joseph of St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office agrees this world-shattering virus has been an extreme challenge for those in his field, pushing him, his team, and their resources to the limit. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Law enforcement officers are at a heightened risk of exposure due to their close contact with members of the public. Their job responsibilities entail the critical task of helping contain the spread while simultaneously serving their local communities and maintaining public order.” (Jennings & Perez 2020)
Joseph thinks the risk of contracting the virus is “extremely bad.” He also made the case that his team does not have the necessary amount of protective equipment to properly deal with COVID-19. “We were thrown to the wolves,” says Joseph, “we were not equipped and prepared as the fire department or medical personnel.” Regardless of limited PPE, Joseph says he is being sure to follow the suggested guidelines to prevent contracting the virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention “recommends that law enforcement personnel practice everyday measures to protect their household members from becoming ill, including hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily.” (FAQs for Law Enforcement Agencies and Personnel 2020)
When asked if he ever expected a disaster of this magnitude, he responded, “Not in my lifetime, no. We were prepared for the regular: storms, hurricanes, flooding, conditions like that. I’ve seen first-hand a man, that I personally know, have his son give him COVID because his son was not being responsible. I went from seeing the father having trouble breathing to eventually dying.” Despite current health concerns, he feels fortunate to not have lost anyone in his immediate family to the virus. He also expressed how he misses family gatherings and being able to visit all of his loved ones on a regular basis.
Joseph’s hope for the future is to have an administration that empathizes and accommodates the needs of the communities that have been greatly affected by COVID.
Jennings, W., & Perez, N. (2020, June 6). The Immediate Impact of COVID-19 on Law Enforcement in the United States. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275851/
Personal: In person Interview with Randall Joseph, Sept. 18, 3:00 P.M.
FAQs for Law Enforcement Agencies and Personnel. (2020). Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/law-enforcement-agencies-faq.html