Salmon Arm RCMP Staff Sergeant Scott West. (File photo)

Salmon Arm RCMP explain the issues surrounding making an arrest during COVID-19

Staff Sergeant talks about policing during COVID-19, difficulties with social distancing

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Salmon Arm RCMP much the same as other citizens, with a few notable exceptions.

One ongoing threat to police are those people who try to injure or spit on officers when they’re being arrested.

Staff Sgt. Scott West said it hasn’t happened recently, but “as a matter of routine, that happens.”

He said COVID-19 certainly heightens the risk factor should it take place.

West points out that such an act can result in charges, namely assaulting a police officer or, if it’s done to someone else, assault or, potentially, assault causing bodily harm.

He said police have increased their awareness and are equipped with personal protective equipment such as masks during the COVID-19 restrictions.

It’s left up to individual officers to assess risk and decide whether they’re going to wear a mask when responding to a call.

However, “if we’re arresting somebody, there is no six foot (distancing). We have to do our jobs. When you’re arresting somebody, you’re arresting somebody.”

Read more: Civil Liberties group seeks amnesty for recreational tickets issued during pandemic

Read more: COVID-19 – B.C. man charged after allegedly coughing on Mounties during arrest

West said no one has been diagnosed with COVID-19 at the detachment but up to four officers were away from duty.

“In the end they didn’t exhibit signs of COVID, they probably had just the run-of-the-mill flu or cold that was ongoing at the time. Their symptoms were gone long before the 14 days were up – we stay off work longer than that to ensure nobody is going to end up with anything or transmit anything,” he said.

He notes that if an officer or staff member shows any kind of symptoms, the detachment would immediately call 811, get advice and, if necessary, the person in question would be placed off-duty for 14 days and would self-isolate.

Office staff are working rotating shifts, he said, so everyone on the administrative side isn’t working at the same time.

Read more: Statistics Canada report looks at COVID-19s impact on violence in the family

Read more: COVID-19 world update – Electronic bracelets for quarantine violators, massive police presence in France

He said the detachment is disinfecting police cars, gear and the office as needed. No one wants to bring home a virus to their families, a particular concern.

Another factor that’s new, West said, is online conferencing. Because Zoom and other social platforms are not security cleared, he generally can’t use them to discuss police work and files.

“It’s a veritable minefield for me, what you can or can’t say… A whole new dynamic in the world of policing.”

As for crimes, he said police have seen property crime trending upwards slightly. He offers words of advice.

“We have noticed theft from vehicles. So a message to people, if you have a business or a place that is not being occupied, get someone to check it on a regular basis and ensure you’re not being victimized in some way, shape or form. That’s sounds business-slash-property security advice.”



marthawickett@saobserver.net

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