HOUSTON – Harris County Constable Precinct 1 has implemented new procedures for deputies patrolling the streets.
Each Harris County deputy has been issued masks, medical gloves, and anti-bacterial wipes, according to Constable Alan Rosen. He said he is encouraging all deputies to utilize the supplies while out in the field.
Deputy Christopher Byrd, who has been with the department for about three years, said his job is already difficult, but coronavirus is making it more stressful.
"The hardest part is not knowing whether somebody has it or not," Byrd said. "I'm in close quarters with the people that I encounter, and I try to advise everybody to keep their distance (and) ask questions. Do they have a fever? Coughing?"
In addition to the extra personal protection, Constable Rosen said deputies are also implementing more stringent cleaning procedures to keep suspects safe.
"Anytime they transport someone in the back seat of their car, the person is wearing a surgical mask as well, and when that person gets out of the car, the car is basically decontaminated," Constable Rosen said.
They are also trying to cut back on face-to-face interactions.
"If it doesn't require an officer to physically come to a residence, we're trying to do a lot of that over the phone," Constable Rosen said.
Changes are also being implemented at dispatch, said Constable Rosen.
"We are now asking those other probing questions: is anybody in the home having medical issues? Is anybody sick or running a fever?" he said. "As officers are being dispatched to those homes, they're constantly aware that they need to take extra steps before they get there."
One of the most frustrating aspects about the job amid the global pandemic is that people are not taking the threat seriously, Byrd said.
“Out here, it seems as though it’s just a normal day,” Byrd said. “Like there’s no such thing as the coronavirus.”