Public safety officials still learning how to work with COVID-19

Some PPE supplies still hard to find
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 12:53 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) -Seven months into the pandemic, COVID-19 is still having an impact on the police and fire departments from their budget to day-to-day operations.

It’s almost August in Twin Falls, and Lt. Craig Stotts of the Twin Falls Police Department said he can’t believe he is still talking about the coronavirus. He said he has never seen anything like this situation.

“No. Nothing. This is unprecedented,” Stotts said.

The police department's lobby is still closed to the public, and employees have to wear face masks when they can't social distance. The department has also maintained an enhanced cleaning schedule.

“So our employees are encouraged to keep their vehicles and their workspace clean, sanitized and disinfected as much as possible,” Stotts said.

The lieutenant also said the department has had to incorporate COVID-19 into their training, and it is a constant awareness.

He also said the police department supply closet has been taken over by personal protective equipment supplies.

“I would definitely say the cleaning supplies and disinfectant wipes have replaced some of the things you would associate with a police supply closet, such as uniforms and things,” Stotts said.

He also said they are somewhat limited on what they can acquire. A lot of places have run out of disinfectant wipes, and the police department is not able to get them as well. They try to have people go out on a daily basis and try to acquire them.

Capt. Scott Siegworth of the Twin Falls Fire Department said they are also dealing with the obstacles of procuring PPE supplies and the cost associated with them.

“I’d say from what I have heard, we are having to move money from line items to potentially buy PPE supplies, and yes they are kind of hard to come by,” Siegworth said. “Right now we are getting pretty low on gloves.”

He also said the fire department has stopped doing tours with schools and Boy Scout troops because of COVID-19.

“Hopefully that will start up again eventually,” said Siegworth.

Shauna Peterson of the Twin Falls Police Department said wearing a face mask all the time has made it tough to communicate with the public during things like routine traffic stops, “because they can’t see our lips or facial expressions.”

Seigworth said he has also noticed face masks have made it “definitely harder” to communicate between his crew and the public. He also said he sometimes has to communicate things several times before someone understands him.

Peterson said it’s difficult not being able to communicate with coworkers and see their faces when they laugh.

“I think the hardest thing for me is not being able to see people’s facial expressions or their smiles,” Peterson said.

On the bright side, at this time both departments aren't facing any serious budget cuts, and are in the process of hiring.

“People still want to serve their community and do a good job,” Stotts said.

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