COVID-19’s impact on rural police departments

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DENISON, Iowa (KCAU) – It’s no secret just how fast COVID-19 can spread. For a small town, like Denison, Iowa, a spread can have a big impact. Denison is a town of around 8,000 people. The town’s police department has 13 full-time officers.

“I’m concerned that we could potentially see a widespread spike in number of cases within the county,” Police Chief Dan Schaffer said.

He said if that were to happen, it would be devastating to the town and his department. However, he said he’s comfortable with the measures they have in place, which include enforcing his officers to take needed precautions.

“We wear a mask every time we have to come in contact with the public. If we’re able to take complaints over the phone, we do that. Otherwise, if we have to go out and meet the public face-to-face, we keep a 6 feet distance and wear a mask at the same time,” Sergeant Doug Melby said.

Sergeant Melby said with just over a dozen officers, its critical that they take precautionary measures to prevent the virus from leaving an overwhelming impact.

Chief Schaffer said three weeks ago he was concerned. They didn’t have much of a plan and he said their resources were limited. He said that’s why they now have a contingency plan in place.

“The Crawford County Sheriff and I have had discussions about this. Our departments work very closely together on a daily basis. We would share services between the two agencies,” Chief Schaffer added.

He said he will also reach out to state police and neighboring communities if he feels a COVID-19 outbreak makes it too difficult to provide proper service.

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