Episode 4: A Law Enforcement Perspective

This podcast is part of our series of real-time discussions centering around the COVID-19 response in jurisdictions throughout the United States. In this session, we will focus on the response efforts of two Law Enforcement agencies; we will interview Lt. Kevin O’Brien, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Lt. Richard Nelson, Orange County (CA) Sheriff’s Office.

Our discussion will identify how both agencies have had to adapt their response protocols to keep their officers safe but able to do their jobs effectively during this crisis. We will look at lessons learned, best practices and challenges faced during this unique response effort. Finally, we reflect on how their participation in Enhanced All-Hazards Incident Management / Unified Command (MGT314) course prepared their agencies for this response.

TRANSCRIPT

Narrator: Welcome to the Disaster Management podcast series. Each episode features subject matter professionals discussing strategies and techniques for emergency managers and policy makers to consider as they prepare for respond to and recover from disasters. This series is brought to you by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service in the National Emergency Response and Recovery training Center.

Heather Crites: howdy and welcome to the next podcast in our COVID-19 response series. Today’s podcast is hosted by Kris Murphy and Heather Crites. My name is Heather Crites. I am a training specialist with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and I am primarily responsible for our enhanced all hazards incident management unified command course also known as MGT 314. For those of you listening who are not familiar with MGT 314, this course centers on applying the essential incident command processes required for managing a large scale all hazards incident. Participants exercise as part of an incident management team using the all hazards planning process to manage the response to four different simulation based scenarios.

Kris Murphy: And I am Kris Murphy. Many of you will recognize me from the MGT 314 program as well. I have been a project coordinator with TEEX for about eight years now and have interacted with many of you listening during your week here in College Station. Also joining us today we have Lieutenant Richard Nelson with the Orange County Sheriff’s department in the great state of California, and Lieutenant Keven O’Brien with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s office in sunny Florida. You gentlemen both attended the MGT 314 together back in February. Welcome. I want to take a second to give the listeners and idea of what we are going to discuss today. We want to take a look at how your agencies have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and talk a little bit about how you’ve had to adapt to this very unique crisis. Look at lessons learned and best practices. We will be picking your brains in terms of the planning process and how it’s unfolding in real time in your communities. And finally, lets take a look at how the MGT 314 training that you both attended has played a role in preparing you for this very unique response effort. So Lieutenant O’Brien why don’t we start with you, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Lieutenant Kevin O’Brien: Thank you and thanks for inviting me along for this podcast. I think it’s a great idea. I’m Kevin O’Brien, I’m a lieutenant with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s office down here in Palm Beach County, Florida. Currently, Lieutenant oversee the field training unit and also command our emergency field force unit. Which is an all hazards type of response unit within the county. On the EOTC side of the house, I oversee about a hundred sworn deputies on both the law enforcement and the corrections side and I also oversee certain civilian positions and the training that goes along with that. On the field force side I oversee training, budgeting, crowd management issues and incidents with an all hazards approach with about 140 members that are all doing it on a volunteer basis. We are that go to all hazards team for Palm Beach County. I’ve been in law enforcement for over 33 years. Participated in several deployments and had an opportunity in all of those occasions to be part of a unit-wide command setting. I’ve had the opportunity also here locally to work hand in hand with our folks in the EOC on several incidents.

Richard Nelson: I’m Richard Nelson, I’m with the Orange County Sheriffs Department, I’m a Lieutenant, Orange County California that is. And I’m in charge of mutual aid, reserves, explorers and Chaplin’s. I’m also in charge of our Sheriff’s response team which deal with civil unrest of any kind of floods, fires, emergency management type of incidences. Currently, I work patrol, jails, I’ve really had a good opportunity to work in the training division and that’s why I enjoyed the TEEX class in the ICS.

Kris Murphy: As I said earlier, both of you attended the class in February. And as you know this training is based on the tenants of unified command. Paint a picture for us of how unified command structure is looking your agencies or in your departments right now with this response.

Kevin O’Brien: Over the years we’ve been working a lot to really grow the way we do things ICS related, the way we do things with that unified command and is starting to work a lot better. At the agency level, we are doing everything ourselves. We are able to kind of reach out and grab things and get supplies and what not. We are doing things on that case and not necessarily doing it by a command structure within Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office. However, our EOC is currently at what they call a modified level 2 partial activation. Which means that there are a handful of people that need to be there, a select few people that need to be there, of which the sheriff’s office does have some people there. And they are working from that law enforcement desk to be able to get information for orders or any sort of operational needs that some of the other agencies within Palm Beach County might need. They’re actually taking that information, they are trying to vet it and then they are pushing it up to planning or pushing it over to the other groups, financial, what not, logistics to be able to grad those things and get them down to Palm Beach County in the event they need them for helping other people give them some of those items in case they need it. They are working 7 days straight, just working through the days, they are not working overnight time, but they are doing that. But they are doing that to assist in the pandemic and no other law enforcement agency that I know of is actually working in our EOC other than the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office.

Richard Nelson: For Orange County, we kind a found ourselves in a different unique style. We are either a lead agency in unified command, or in a support role, typically the fire department. So this time the health care agency was a lead agency and due to some situations, politics we had to kind of change that a little bit, and our sheriff actually took over the director of emergency services after the few initial weeks. But initially we started out as far as the sheriff’s department having department operation center. I happen to be the incident commander for the DOC so we’ve been working as a DOC in conjunction with the EOC director of emergencies change that kind of helped us change as far as moving to a position where we have more influence. So it kind of helped out in that manner. We had contact with all the other agencies in our county to make sure that they had the PPE supplies they needed, coordinated with the forces and scheduling and things of that nature. We also had a meeting with the Orange County Chiefs and police sheriff association and we discussed scheduling staffing needs. We went to a A-side B-side basically which you work Sunday, Monday Tuesday every other Wednesday off and then Thursday Friday Saturday and every other Wednesday off. And I asked as the incident commander mutual aid coordinator for the county, if all the agencies could go to that same schedule. Mitigation of cross-contamination or exposure Incase ah have to go to mutual aid

Heather Crites: And do you find yourself unifying within your own department? And by that I mean do you are you working with people you may not normally work with.

Kevin O’Brien: We are really maintaining that relationship with just our own within Palm Beach County sheriffs office. The folks at the EOC, kind like what Richard is doing is the incident commander there, we are working with other agencies from that EOC level and again it’s only a select few people within Palm County Beach sheriffs office that are doing that. We’ve had the pleasure of making sure we’re covered with PPE and other items that we need. On a day-to-day basis in lockstep with other agencies, other

than if we had some incident that may cross jurisdictional boundaries or things of that nature. And kind of the same as applying during this pandemic as well

Richard Nelson: For us we’re really getting to know our financial division and our research and development divisions, as far as procuring assets. As part of the DOC we have one financial personnel embedded with us so we have a direct line of communication with them. We have our own people we have trained up for situations like this, like civilian staff at the sheriffs department. But we decided to follow the ICS protocols and bring in someone from financial to run that financial section for us. And that’s been a great difference as far communication because we don’t know who to talk to typically on who to get this emergency credit card information from who to pay for the authorization the amount all these little small things that they know all those people in that division. Having that little different change is a great deal of difference.

Kevin O’Brien: Kris and Heather were also finding out that with in our respective agencies the budgetary part of it, having to align a lot of things with a federal payment plan for overtime and other costs associated with that is something that our budgeting and accounting unit has had to learn pretty quickly. Going back to hurricanes and other areas where we’ve had the need to reimbursed, like what Richard was saying as well, our agency in terms of our budget and accounting with have learned quickly on how to make sure the budgetary items and the needs and so forth are taken care of quickly to include our purchasing. They have really learned to go outside the box so to speak to find things that weren’t there yesterday that we need today.

Heather Crites: You mentioned earlier about the health department having a more active role in this response. How has that coordination worked out for you guys?

Kevin O’Brien- I know our health department here locally, much like it probably is out in Orange Beach California, they are running a lot of our, if not all of our drive up testing sites. We have about three or four maybe closer to five or six now probably in Palm Beach County alone that are set up to do mobile testing of the individuals within Palm Beach County. The health department is working off of their their own matrix if you will to be able to make that happen. They’re doing things with the state department of health, working in conjunction with the local department of health response teams and units within Palm Beach County and so forth and maybe some of the municipalities to make to make that work more effectively.

Kris Murphy: How have your NC’s adjusted your response protocol to keep your law enforcement personnel safe but able to do their jobs effectively? For instance we’re hearing about departments that are suspending public fingerprinting, issuing promise to appear citations in Lou of arrest. How have you changed your daily standard operating procedure?

Kevin O’Brien: Palm Beach County sheriffs office we’re demanding that all of our deputies, front line personnel wear PPE on calls. We have a nice little saying that mask up glove up. Making sure they’re safe when they go to these calls. The deputies aren’t driving around really with their gloves and mask on as they drive and operate their vehicles individually operated vehicles, but when do get out had to confront someone, have to go to a house or so forth it’s always mask up and glove up to make sure that they are safe. We have one point of entry established for every building the Palm Beach County sheriffs office has personnel in it. We asked that they enter in that one point of entry. Everyone has to answer a series of questions that were sent fourth from the CDC and then they also have to have their temperatures taken. We have personnel that wear face coverings throughout some trainings cause

incidentally enough, all of the training, I would say in-service training all that minus the field training, has been suspended during this pandemic. We’ve been given the greenlight to go ahead and start field training back up again. I had a number of training trainees out in the field that were currently training. We suspended their training for a few days and we were able to get cars for everyone of them. So from a field training standpoint it’s been very unique. We don’t typically let them drive separate cars until much much later in their training but now we’ve had to adjust and have them drive these cars pretty much from day one with the training officer in their own car and they have to follow very very closely to obviously monitor make sure that they’re doing things the right way, so a lot of those changes have come in. Yes we have suspended public fingerprinting and other issues for the public that come in contact with us. In terms of issuing notices to appear in Palm Beach County we’re still doing that. If the arrest presents itself, if it’s a notice to appear obviously in Lou of an arrest we do those normally anyway. But if there was an actual physical arrest that has to occur, masking up and gloving up. Were making sure that when the inmate or arrestee is going to the jail, we have two in Palm Beach County, that they are met with a nurse. The nurse will check the temperature, ask them the questions In the event that they come back and answer yes I do have a fever or yes I have been in an area that has been impacted by the coronavirus, they are immediately isolated and put away from the general population. So that’s been a good thing there. We have limited our proactivity. We don’t do in traffic stops unless absolutely necessary. We don’t do a lot of citizen encounters unless absolutely needed. So whatever we can do to mitigate and stop that spread and so forth. But at the same time making sure everybody knows making that everybody knows we’re still out there patrolling, we’re still out there for the safety of the citizens and we’re still out there being seen. It’s kind of a new norm for us now.

Richard Nelson: As far as Orange County Sheriffs Department we stopped fingerprinting as well, responding to low priority calls in person, we’re now taking those types of calls over the phone. In regards to mitigating any kind of exposure or contamination. As far as vehicle stops we are only doing that to ensure public safety. Our courts are closed and it was a big thing for us, cause that also stops a lot of the issues with jails, transportation to and from jails to the courts as well as arresting people. So that kind of caused some issues as far as arraignments and things like that. And then they opened up a court room for arraignments so we had to re-staff them partially. We’ve also shut down all of our training our regional training centers our academy shut down we had three academies going on. Unfortunately one had to five weeks left to go. We basically just went to the normal things that of mitigating things and following the CDC guidelines and recommendations from county health agency from the governor, all those things we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to do this. As far as getting mask out to the deputies when they are they approach, our PIO’s office put out some videos and statements letting the population know that when we stand a little further away from you it’s because we’re trying to make sure we don’t expose you or you don’t expose us and if we were a mask don’t be afraid or alarmed. We’re just trying to get out the information that we will be doing things a little bit different than we normally do and. And I think that’s helped our community out greatly it’s just understanding what the changes are of what we’re doing. It’s helped a lot as far as people understanding the connection between law-enforcement and civilians.

Heather Crites: This transitions nicely into my next question. We know the CDC is recommending that the public were face coverings when they’re out to slow the spread of the coronavirus.. There’s instances of law-enforcement being called to locations Such as banks and 24 hour convenient stores for fears of robberies. Have you guys experience that and what are your thoughts and will start with you Lieutenant O’Brien.

Kevin O’Brien: I had to actually ask our communication section on that one because I have not personally heard of it any of that. They have not heard of that as well. It seems that everyone for the most part is getting the idea that we have to wear some kind of face covering. There’s a lot of folks around here wearing the blue surgical masks so they do have that air of medical appearance. When they do walk in there, a lot of them may put them on just before they come into the store, get out of their cars when they’re wearing them. So the fear of that somebody was about to do a robbery is really not as great here. We have mostly our deputies to in this case are asked to sit in the parking lot of convenience stores and banks and some of the other areas that have been deemed as essential businesses and what not, to be more of a high profile. So I think that just seeing them out in the parking lot gives them a better sense of security as well.

Richard Nelson: I think the interesting part for me was that I was in the DOC for 21 days straight 14-16 hour days. And have not really seen the change in our community I’ve just been locked down watching the news a little bit during work. And I finally got to go to the bank and it was interesting to me to see all these changes and protocols. Almost nobody out on the street. I walked in and I had to have a mask on, the people had a mask on and I think as a police officer we don’t really grasp the enormity of the situation until you’re in it and you’re not used to it. As deputies I think we’re kind of on edge because we’re in a bank anyway and I was a little bit more on edge because everyone’s wearing a mask. But I think the interesting part was you just go back to your training and your instincts and you say what is not normal when you’re looking at these things. And I think that the bank tellers they know what’s not normal sometimes. Target or Walmart in crime prevention they can spot a lot of peoples activities just by the way they walk in the door what they’re wearing who their with who their not with, I think it just goes back to that new normal we’re all gonna have to get adjusted to.

Kris Murphy: So I was in the store yesterday afternoon and I saw two of the funniest things I ever saw in a while. One was a guy in the self check out he had a Santa’s beard on. And I thought ok that’s original and being in college station at the University we have a 12th man towels and there was a guy that had it strung between the arms of his glasses so he had to towel hanging in front of his face.

Heather Crites: How do you think the response in your respective counties is going? Do you have the resources you need?

Richard Nelson: When we first started we did normal things that we usually have contracts with businesses such as gloves mask gowns and we normally have a supply in every division or jail or court or our operational divisions things of that nature, but once this hit the certain population, not just in the community but within our department, we maybe took it more serious than not. And then we started following the guidelines of the CDC and the HCA and the governor and we started cleaning more. And then when it came time to re-order, I think a lot of other people are reordering to so we found a lot of places that we were going to purchase those things or we had contracts with, were out or delayed or now coming from third-party vendors. We had some issues right the beginning. It took a couple weeks to get some things in place and then we were also very lucky to have you know certain places of businesses that donated things to us. Home Depot for example would donate some cleaning supplies buckets. We are also lucky we were also lucky as a mutual aid coordinator for the County of Orange with all the other local law enforcement agencies. They did a very good job of preparing for this to. Only a few agencies had to come to us and actually use mutual aid and request gloves or gowns or goggles or eye protection. We are very lucky with that.

Kevin O’Brien: To add to what Richard was saying the same thing here. We were pretty fortunate to have a lot of that PPE in stock and so forth here. I think we did a decent job initially responded to the pandemic. I know kind of odd but right in the middle of the pandemic we were all issued 3M masks. We were going through a process where everyone had to be fit tested. We learned a valuable lesson as an agency to that but that’s done at the point of issuance rather than in the middle of a pandemic. With that said though a lot of the other things that we needed gloves and special little PPE supplement kits that we received additional sprays and so forth to help us out when were in the field, that was all issued to the deputies and other members in law-enforcement corrections to be able to use as that supplemental kit to make sure that we had everything that we needed. We also are maintaining additional orders for PPE so anytime they’re running short of gloves running short of mask, things of that nature, we’re continuously trying to restock to keep a flowing good stock of items and so forth. We’re learning daily about the spread about the infection and death rates so forth so we want to make sure everybody’s good on our end and that’s kind of what we’ve been doing from the time this thing started and just keep continue to grow this thing as it goes forward.

Richardson Nelson: As a mutual aid we also work with CAL OES on ordering mask and ordering masks. Once we got one shipment of masks all the elasticity of the bands were broken so we had 97,000 mask with no elasticity. So the resourcefulness of one of my sergeants and some of the deputies in our DOC they went right to YouTube to see how to fix the mask what kind of rubber bands to get. So we just took a couple hours what’s the appropriate size a rubber band to get for different size faces and then what were utilized was our academy recruits because the academy shut down and we basically made an assembly line to start hole punch a mask and attaching rubber bands and then try to keep that area sterile and clean as possible so we can fix all those mask. So we fixed and replaced about 30,000 mask at the end of that week. These are just some of the small things that happened during the course. We have millions of people in California the resources had to be distributed and those are things that happen. We were just glad to get the masks and make do with what we could.

Heather Crites: If you could’ve seen Kris and my faces as our jaws just dropped. That’s a great example of adapt, survive and overcome.

Richard Nelson: Once we got them out we had to notify the other two counties that were picking up thousands of mask that hey you’re probably going to have the same problem. We told him what we were doing what we did and hopefully they’ll probably do the same thing it’ll work out for them.

Heather Crites: How have your departments been affected by COVID-19 have you lost personnel due to having to be quarantined

Kevin O’Brien: Here at Palm Beach County sheriffs office we have. We unfortunately and sadly lost a sergeant in the corrections division to the coronavirus. Where we believe it may have been travel related. However once it was discovered that he was in and around some of the population of the personnel that worked in the jail to include some of the inmates and so forth, we did have to ask that the majority of the people were self quarantined. So that obviously put a large strain on our corrections day-to-day personnel and so forth which they’re already completely strained right now. The sad part was to lose him to the coronavirus. It really made it hit home hard for us here at Palm Beach County.

Richard Nelson: I’m really sorry for your loss that’s horrible. We’ve been very fortunate we’ve only had four deputies and one civilian inside of corrections division that have been quarantine. Three of the deputies return to work but some counties around us, Riverside County they had two deputies passed

away unfortunately from the COVID virus. We are very lucky when it comes to those returns and our inmate population we haven’t had any more pass away but we’ve had numerous inmates quarantine and numerous inmates affected. When I say numerous 15 to 20 which for us that’s a lot of people to manage and keep separated not to mention their normal criminal activities classification codes that we have to separate as well.

Kris Murphy: Lieutenant O’Brien you are in South Florida where you have beaches, a vibrant community and one including one very famous household. What unique challenges is that presenting for you? And then Lieutenant Nelson the same to you. You’re in California that has its own set of challenges in a state that size. How are you guys approaching these challenges.

Kevin O’Brien: Here in Palm Beach County some of the decisions to close beaches to close parks and things like that came about and from the standpoint from our from my emergency field force team we have definitely had to make some adjustments. We’ve had put barricades up making sure that people are going to the beaches making sure they are not going in the parks and so forth. Being the county, we assist all county parks making sure that they are closed making sure that there’s some monitoring of people going in and out we were definitely called in to help out to mitigate the amount of people that are gaining or we’re gaining access to the beach. We do have a very famous household here for some of the listeners President Trump has Mar Lago, the southern White House is it like to call it right here in Palm Beach. And pretty much from the onset when they started taking serious and severe measures to limit travel and everything else, he curtailed his travel to Palm Beach so we haven’t seen that facility open it’s been closed. One thing that we have seen here with the beaches closed and the parts closed and all that a lot of different roadways either canal bank roadways, fire roads things of that nature or just people walking through neighborhoods has increased tremendously in Palm Beach County. Families are out riding bikes families are out taking evening walks or doing a lot of doing activity. Because fitness, thankfully is something that was deemed essential by our governor. And was deemed that something that they needed to that to sort of stave off cabin fever if you will. The majority of them are having some kind of a face covering or masking up when they go out there so that’s been a good thing.

Richard Nelson: As far as California the beach community is a huge part of her life lifestyles. Shutting that down had a had a big impact on our county. Our citizens are very law bidding, very accommodating, so we didn’t have too many problems initially at the beaches. However shutting down the beaches, shutting down the schools, the people forced to be home has created a kind of an issue of being home, a little cabin fever. Where last weekend I was out at two protest in our jurisdiction and the people out were protesting, just wanting to get back out and do the normal things. So we’re very fortunate in our area to have good citizens and people who just want to get back to work and just want to enjoy the community. We also opened up our beaches a few of our beaches in our county and I think that took a little bit of the pressure off. It’s still social distancing and you can set up a towel and lay down but you can walk on the beach, you can surf, you can swim. I think that’s going to hopefully alleviate a lot of the cabin fever when. Disneyland shut down that was huge. Not only were the jobs but there’s another place where people can go in recreate and get out. We also have The Anaheim Angels and the Ducks and all those guys shut down and that had a huge impact as well as wow this is pretty serious. Now the protest are starting to come and as part of my duties as mobile field force and sheriffs responsive team coordinator we’re getting pretty busy right now.

Kris Murphy: Both of you both of your departments have sent quite a few personnel to the MGT 314 training here in College Station. How do you feel the training has prepared you either personally or your

department for this crisis. How do you are how has it impacted your response. Do you feel better prepared having finish the training?

Kevin O’Brien: My overall quick answer is yes. I think the course better prepared me for working with in the unified command setting it made me better prepared to understand all the behind-the-scenes activities makes the process work and what we as an agency can do to better prepare ourselves to handle those incidents when they come up. I think working from an operational standpoint pretty much solely in other incidents were sort of myopic in view. I really just looked at it from that point, didn’t really see all the other components all cogs of the wheel or spokes of the wheel that went into play here. And from attending the class I think it really opened my eyes it made me realize that operations all the parts were really affected but operations is probably where I want to be the most. Finance logistics that’s a bugger those folks really worked hard and it takes I think a certain person to be able to go in and align line themselves with those particular settings. Even in a command setting you’re sitting waiting for things to happen but this in the meat potatoes are the folks in planning logistics finances so forth those of the real ones that are lion shares of work and it made me realize more that goes on That in all the people behind the scenes that make that whole process, that whole ICS process work. We have had several people but some of those people that actually do the day-to-day are the ones that really are being encouraged by us to get to that class and to see how it works so they have a much more deeper understanding of how it works. For me it was great is a great class is a good chance to really work with collectively with everybody.

Richard Nelson: Yeah same for myself. I heard about the class from numerous of my partners going to the class and when it comes ICS it’s not that sexy of a topic for law-enforcement officers. So when I hear a lot of my partners or cops say hey that’s the best class I ever been through I wish we were going to that class a long time ago that’s what I signed up for and I went to it recently it really helped me out understanding of the different positions. But the biggest Takeaway I had for attending the TEEX 314 class Is from a practical application exercise. The different positions you put us in each day or during the week all the ICS positions really gave me a good understanding of all the intricacies of all the positions and those roles and responsibilities are huge and it gives you insight as a leader for the personalities in the kind of skill sets that are required for each position. For me I think the greatest success our department Is having having gone through this class, is understanding it was skill sets and personality traits are needed in each position and then when they asked me to be the incident commander and started the DOC. I had a great understanding of who I needed for that position. Now I’m looking at specific personality traits, skill sets, work ethics, abilities to critically think for certain positions and without having gone through TEEX I really don’t think I would have been as successful as incident commander or picking out the positions for our DOC. So I am greatly appreciative to all of you guys for letting us come and two other of my partners that went with me on that training, it was eye-opening for them and it was great because one of them was the operations section of chief in a protest in one of our contract cities. And so we get to meet up and talk and I was like hey wasn’t that great that we had this class. He said it was so much better and help me with my incident action plan. I knew exactly what I needed to do, so it was good Timing.

Heather Crites: You know I always like to say that 314 gives an opportunity to experience some positions that you may not normally for fill and you have a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes and hopefully you leave the class with a little bit of self discovery recognizing what it is that you were good at and then maybe were some of your weaknesses and as you mentioned filling in those gaps with the right people.

Kevin O’Brien: Yeah no doubt I noticed stay away from finance Kris.

Heather Crites: One final question before we wrap up. What final words of wisdom to each of you have for the folks that are actively engaged in this response in their cities counties and states

Kevin O’Brien: This is definitely from a pragmatic and a personal viewpoint. I would say the folks limit the amount of news and stories and other things that you may hear and see and all the salacious reporting of death rates and all that because to me as a person, it almost seems to be like there’s some scare tactics out there. I think if people use good sound judgment they continue to use those good social distancing practices continue to mask up glove up and calm down a little bit breath a little bit just ease through this, I think we’re all going to get through this. Come back nice and strong and probably stronger than ever. From a law enforcement standpoint, I will tell you the same thing really applies. You know a lot of deputies initially at the very onset of this we are very concerned nervous actually scared about somethings that might happen maybe going out to the field, so I think if they take the advice and the cautionary warning of the CDC and other entities, listen to what they have to say and really practice those in the field it really goes a long way to mitigate those fears. So that would be my part just take things from a very pragmatic maybe tailored approach if you can. Maybe be selective in what you choose to listen to make sure It’s very valid maybe it’s on point.

Richard Nelson: Yeah I totally agree with that, that’s great advice. I think it’s also kind of generational. Guys my age, you work in a jail when you start your career and then you go to patrol then you promote then you come back to the jail then you go back out then you promote again then you come back out. Working the in the jail several times throughout your career you’re exposed to all kinds of different things we called the jail cold or the jail flu so we’ve been expose of MERSA, flus, all kinds of things, hepatitis. Our generation, I have 27 years on and I think one of the things is it’s ok so that big of a deal, but you have different age groups within our department that look at things differently. Calm down it’s gonna be ok. Put on your mask do the things they are telling you it’s gonna be ok. You’re probably exposed to more things prior to this than you even know. From just contacts with inmates and just working in patrol than you ever realized. Having those conversations I think from the supervisors or or a manager to a lower line staff I think is really critical and important. You can train for almost anything and the TEEX training was very valuable but some of the lessons I’ve learned you can’t train for ego’s and personalities, especially under stressful situations. I think the more people you can have go through this class the more I can understand that I think it’s great I’m a big proponent of this class.

Kevin O’Brien: Like Richard said to and it’s actually a very very very valid point, the jail workers the correction deputies and so forth they deal with some sort of infectious or something or other on a daily basis I hadn’t even thought about that. That’s a great analogy Richard that they have to think about these things but you know what but because it’s not hyped up all the time they don’t think about it they know there’s normal procedures that they have to go through to help not spread the infections the bacteria and things like that that happened within a jail setting which is going to happen regardless. But I think it’s a fantastic analogy that stuff is out there. We’ve had the MERSA outbreaks in our jail as well as here in Palm Beach County, and none of that is obviously a secret. People know about it but it’s things that we’re doing right now to try to eliminate the spread and just doing things very smartly I think that’s the Way to go that’s a great, great point you brought up Richard.

Richard Nelson: At some point as a nation as a state as a county as a department we’re gonna have to look at what the new norm. Like having five deputies out that are infected are we going to change everything, those are things we have to consider now. What’s our new normal. Those will be interesting

things going forward our executive command to decide and not just for executive command but from our state leaders and our local leaders to what is acceptable. Yeah it’s gonna be interesting.

Heather Crites: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. We appreciate sharing your experiences and insights to the COVID-19 pandemic. I would also like to thank all the first responders for their dedication and countless hours during this time. To find all of TEEX’s training, visit TEEX.ORG.

Narrator: Thank you for listening to the Disaster Management Podcast Series brought to you by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center. If you have any questions or ideas for future episodes please contact NERRTC@teex.tamu.edu or visit teex.org for information about training near you.