RJ the Police Officer

Interviews with working professionals most affected by the world’s current state.

“My name is RJ and I am 26 years old.”
Police Officer in Chicago, Illinois

Q. How has your role been affected by the COVID-19 most recently?

It’s been challenging policing under COVID-19, to say the least.

I’ve had to become more conscious of contact with people. For certain calls, I’ve asked people to step outside of their homes so that we can maintain social distancing. But for other calls, that’s just not possible and I’ve had to use PPE just to enter somebody’s home.

The department has also stopped doing roll calls to avoid having numerous people in one room.

We officers spend very little time in the station, opting to do reports on the streets when possible. We’ve also been doing a lot of disinfecting of the equipment we share amongst the department, and washing hands a lot more frequently. 

I have also had my days off canceled, which resulted in my having to work about two weeks straight.

Q. How have these changes affected you personally? 

I’ve been staying positive but it definitely takes a toll on you. Not doing the things you normally do, or going to the places you normally go… seeing the people you normally see. It’s just such a drastic change.

My girlfriend and I have a tradition of celebrating our anniversary at a restaurant called Meson Sebika. Because of the stay at home order, for our 5 year anniversary this year, we had to celebrate at home with a home-cooked meal. 

Q. When did the gravity of this situation hit you?

I think when I saw the hospitals full of so many people. That, and the groceries being wiped out.

What’s scary is how the hospitals could become overwhelmed with the alarming rate of infections of COVID-19, coupled with people ignoring self-quarantine and still partying in houses every weekend.

One weekend, there was a party with at least 100 people in a single basement.

Some people just ignore the seriousness of the pandemic. 

Q. What resources do you know of in place to help police officers at this time? 

Aside from the PPE the department has provided, I believe the city has a set up where first responders and medical health professionals who are unable to self-isolate at home can stay in a hotel so that their loved ones at home don’t have to fear contracting the virus. 

Q. What has been the most challenging thing you’ve faced working during this time? 

People ignoring the stay at home order. People still gather outside in large groups. I understand the boredom and need to see your friends, but I really hate to be the guy that gives the tickets and/or make arrests for this. 

Q. What are your predictions for work in the next 4-6 weeks?

More people get infected. More officers are sick which means more days off canceled.

I’m guessing this stay at home order will become stricter as the warmer weather comes and people start to congregate. I’m hoping we will be out of this situation in the next 6 weeks or less. If we can all just do our part and stay home!

In terms of the economy, I’m sure we will recover. Right now, I’m sure there are people taking advantage of this stay at home order and coming up with the next big idea. 

Q. What tips do you have for people working on the front line? What helps you stay positive in the face of anxiety and uncertainty?

My advice for everyone and not just the front-liners is to stay positive. What helps me do so is thinking about the past our society has survived, and knowing that in the future, this will be another one of those moments.

Another thing I’ve done is to keep a routine.

Having a sense of normalcy or getting as close to it as possible has helped with the anxiety. 

Oh, and LOTION! After washing your hands so many times, you’re gonna need lotion. I had to find out myself after washing my hands for the 20th time in the day and my hands were so dry!

Interview by Michelle Lozano, A-LMFT

Feel free to leave a comment for RJ below!

Resources mentioned:

Published by Michelle Lozano, LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Chicago

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