We have reached the month of April and our lives have certainly changed since the start of the year.
Who could have predicted the outbreak of a virus, which essentially has changed our daily routines and affected the entire globe?
COVID-19 has captured the headlines for the past few weeks and will likely continue to do so for several more. I had the opportunity to speak with Police Chief Bill Scholtz and Lt. Craig Bailey on Thursday for this week’s column about policing in Amesbury during these challenging times.
Although things are constantly changing, they wanted to convey that everyone is well at APD. They are also truly appreciative and not surprised with the overwhelming community support during this crisis.
Understandably, times are tough for a lot of residents but most people are taking this seriously and helping out whenever possible. Personal protection items have been dropped off, local companies have manufactured supplies and even restaurants have provided meals.
Thus far, scheduling has remained intact and police are working diligently to assure everyone is safe. While responses to criminal calls have been fewer, mental health issues and domestics have kept officers busy. The officers and staff continue to serve and protect as conditions change, so residents should continue to feel safe in their homes.
Emergency personnel attend a tremendous amount of training and the benefits of all those classes has been crucial. Emergency response, the inventory of supplies and operation protocols have been set into motion to handle community needs.
Chief Scholtz and Lt. Bailey could not stress enough how the city departments are working together during this crisis, with Amesbury Fire taking strong command. The incident management system, which we all suffered through over the years, has become invaluable.
City personnel are in constant communication with state agencies and plans are in place in case conditions change. Emergency personnel are trained and prepared to handle anything, so residents should feel confident that the local emergency response to COVID-19 will be professional and excellent as well. Plans are not shortsighted, with consideration for the potential needs in the weeks ahead.
The pandemic has changed several operations at the department, especially when incidents happen, because crime doesn’t always quarantine. The greatest and most time-consuming change deals with the handling of those who are placed under arrest.
Courts have been closed, so now defendants are arraigned via conference call; including the judge, clerk and defense attorney. Defendants who must be held are transferred to the Middleton House of Correction.
Communication has never been more important, so everyone is making adjustments to assure rights are protected and the public is safe. Calls connected to mental health needs can also be tough, even during ordinary times. Given the stresses people are facing, the demands on our health care facilities and the changes happening daily, providing mental health services are surely more challenging.
It’s tough to see so many people out of work, businesses forced to close and life as we know it to be paused, but things will improve.
After all, parents have become school teachers, families are spending more time together, we all have a greater appreciation of first responders and health care providers, and we have rediscovered how crucial grocery stores and truck drivers are.
This is America and Americans know that nothing comes easy; we will get through this crisis. We are fighting a war against an invisible enemy as opposed to one with typical weapons, but we will win.
We pray for those affected, have faith in those handling the front lines, and appreciate what we have. United we stand, divided we fall and we are all in this together.
Stay inside, stay safe and get ready to support our local businesses as we return to normal, hopefully in just a few weeks.