By Jessie Wagoner
While most people are staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are essential workers who are still reporting for duty to keep the community functioning. Law enforcement officers with both the McPherson Police Department and the McPherson County Sheriff’s Office continue to serve and protect in the midst of the pandemic.
Police Chief Mikel Golden says the number one priority right now is to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining the health and safety of citizens in the community, as well as officers. The police department receives regular updates from KDHE and the McPherson County Health Department, participates in regular meetings with community partners focused on COVID-19 response and has access to regularly updated training on COVID-19.
“We are participating in many meetings and training opportunities, but business is normal for us,” Golden said. “If there is an emergency, we are coming, no matter what.”
In an effort to keep officers and citizens as safe as possible, the department is utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE), like gloves and masks. The department requested additional PPE from the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and those have been received. McPherson County Sheriff Jerry Montagne says all deputies are encouraged to take precautions when working on the road and use common sense to minimize their risk of exposure.
A top priority for Montagne is to maintain the health of the inmates detained at the McPherson County Jail. The jail has installed new air filters throughout the jail, has plenty of PPE and sanitizer and has an isolation area if needed.
“We have no positive cases in the jail and are working hard to keep it that way” Montagne said. “We have all the precautions in place that we can.”
Since the police department, sheriff’s office, jail, emergency communications and animal shelter are all on one property, joint decisions have been made about how to best serve the public while also maintaining safety. The lobby of the Law Enforcement Center is open, as is required by law. Registered offenders who need to update their registry can do so and people can still come into the lobby. However, Golden and Montagne are encouraging members of the public to do as much by phone as possible.
“People can call in and we can do some reports by phone,” Golden said. “We have staff available to answer questions so they don’t have to come in person.”
“We are doing more long form reports and deputies are doing more by phone,” Montagne said. “But they are still out there and working.”
Golden and Montagne agree the community response to the request to practice social distancing has been good. They say it is important for community members to continue staying home, practicing social distancing and maintaining good hygiene practices.
“The citizens are doing great,” Golden said. “We want them to keep it up. Following those social distancing recommendations is the best way to keep us all safe. Shop local when you can safely, stay home and call if you need us. We are here.”