Law enforcement impacted by COVID-19

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Law enforcement officials spend most their time interacting with the public, even during the pandemic. And sometimes, that means getting exposed to the virus.

Law enforcement officers risk their lives doing their jobs, but during the pandemic, the risk is even higher.

Investigators with the South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force have had COVID-19 that they assume came from interactions that occurred while on the job.

Jacky Hunt, the director for the task force said officials interact with people who may or may not be abiding by guidelines every day.

“The nature of the police, a lot of times, if you go to an emergency call, if there’s two people fighting, if there’s 10 people fighting, there’s a bank being robbed, there’s a domestic assault, we can’t say, ‘time out everybody, put your masks on’ while we deal with the situation,” said Hunt.

According to Hunt, his officers getting sick or quarantined causes a lot of stress on his team as a whole.

“It’s something that first responders have definitely had to deal with and when you have short staff and you are tight on personnel anyway and then you get struck with something like this, it really makes it hard to do our jobs,” said Hunt.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has also been impacted significantly.

Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower said when a few deputies are quarantined, it either puts healthy employees into overtime or the sheriff’s office has to work with fewer people than normal.

Not only has it been a stress to manage the business side of the job, but he has also worried about the safety of his deputies.

“It’s been very difficult because one is, you are losing a team player at that particular time and one, you’re worried about their own health and the health of their families so you have got that part where you want to check up on them regularly and make sure they have what they need, as much as we can provide for them. Aside from that, you have to get people, if there is a shift shortage, to come in and work overtime,” said Hightower.

Hightower encourages the public to be kind and considerate to first responders and one another as the pandemic continues.

One undercover officer at the South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force was even in the ICU for a week because of the virus.