No . . . they did not weigh in to discover the extent of their proverbial “quarantine fifteen” weight gain. I mean, after all, our community does like to descend upon our police departments with homemade goods and an abundance of donuts, but in this particular instance they weighed in on recent challenges amidst their “new normal.”
What say you? Do you feel blessed to live in our Lake Cities community? If not, why not? The Lake Cities Chamber of Commerce Wednesday morning Zoom call on May 27, 2020, was so informative as our esteemed police chiefs from the surrounding 3 cities shared with the chamber the challenges that they faced during the COPVID-19 lockdown. The most comforting news was that all 3 police departments worked together to keep our community safe giving a new and heightened meaning to the phrase “we’re in this together.”
Chief Daniel Carolla of the Lake Dallas Police Department let us know that when this all started the department was stocked with personal protection equipment but not the quantity for the whole police department to use and change out constantly. Mayor Michael Barnhart donated 1000 surgical masks, which began a modified version of horse trading! Chief Carolla began trading out those masks with other police chiefs in the region for N-95 masks and then those N-95 masks for some gowns, etc. until our entire community was covered for safety. All 3 departments faced similar challenges: #1) securing enough PPE, #2) keeping people safe, #3) training the officers, and decontaminating them and their cars, as well as testing prisoners for the virus.
Chief Carey Dunn with the Hickory Creek Police Department shared that his department’s biggest challenge was managing the parks, especially due to conflicting messages regarding stay-at-home orders versus go out and walk your dog or take a walk in the park. Most of their fluid activity revolved around the parks. He did express appreciation for all the donations that came in and he mentioned how pleasantly surprised he was at how quickly and efficiently, without loss of service, his department was able to find solutions to decontaminate their officers and cars. It’s also good for our citizens to know that they have contingency plans in place should the building become contaminated. Mayor Lynn Clark with the Town of Hickory Creek announced that all the $25 restaurant dining vouchers have been delivered to the Hickory Creek residents.
Chief Jerry Garner with the Corinth Police Department reported that they have resumed traffic enforcement while still maintaining social distancing. Their doors are open, and they still plan to have their Citizens Public Safety Academy this Fall in cooperation with the Lake Cities Fire Department. SROs will be back in the schools once it resumes. However, because the kids have been out of school, they are spending more time on their computers, which has presented a potential threat in the uprise of sexual predators, so the chief advises all parents to pay close attention to your children’s activities.
Garner’s biggest challenge has been that he misses connecting with the community in the same way as before. Given that all 3 departments do community-oriented policing and, in such a supportive community as ours, having to stand arm’s length from the people in the community hurts him to his core. He loves to talk to kids and give them badges, so the social distancing has been tough.
In sum, the police chiefs agree that there has been great cooperation between the 3 law enforcement agencies and, above all, the most difficult task for them has been trying to maintain a delicate balance between being kind to the community while enforcing the rules made in conjunction with the Governor’s orders. The burden to enforce those orders falls solely on law enforcement, so it is with heavy hearts that they have had to stand by and watch livelihoods be ruined while still being required to do their jobs. All-in-all, they have “gained” newfound respect and appreciation for the Lake Cities community and everyone’s genuine support of their mission.
Suffice it to say, we all can’t wait to get back to some familiar normalcy and to be back frequenting our local shops, restaurants, and small businesses. We look forward to receiving our own badges of courage within the community in the very near future as we set aside our fears and embrace one another (for real) once again.