Police departments face 'learning curve' for operations, investigations in a coronavirus world

Advocates calling to defund police departments
Posted at 4:30 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 09:51:19-04

SUFFOLK, Va. - Crime has not stopped with the coronavirus. The pandemic continues to be a challenge for police departments.

“We still have a job to do,” Lt. Gary Myrick of the Suffolk Police Department, said. “Our tasks are still the same and we expect the same results."

In the last week, there were several shootings and homicides across Hampton Roads, and investigations are still taking place.

As Myrick said, protocols are changing.

"Where we would normally have an isolated interview,” Myrick said, “We have now made those more open, in an open environment to kind of cut down on any opportunity for exposure."

It's not just the Suffolk police adapting, but both Newport News, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach Police Departments tell us they are taking these measures too.

“We are in an environment where we don’t know who the carriers are, or are we carrying the COVID-19,” Myrick said. “So we have to take citizen safety and evaluate at the same time as we do for us."

Lt. Myrick called it a “learning curve,” trying to figure out what works to mitigate that exposure.

“We were meeting on a monthly basis in the different areas of our cases,” He explained, “We used to have a robbery meeting, or homicide team meetings, and now we are resorting to social media, contact by phone, zoom meetings to still have those meeting."

Something Myrick says is missed is the interaction with the public, especially the civic meetings they held.

“We’ve had that personal contact, one on one where we interact with our citizens. We hear from them, we take your complaints, they get input on issues,” Myrick said. “I could see where it could become a little concerning to citizens."

The question on his mind: “Will we ever see a normal? We don’t know but these are the ways we operate now."