When the COVID-19 pandemic first exploded, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office took drastic measures to protect both the community and the officers sworn to protect it.
And over the course of the last several weeks, members of the community have gone out of their way to show their appreciation to the men and women of the county’s largest law enforcement agency.
On Tuesday, Anita Moreno – a retired record specialist for the sheriff’s office – and her brother Rob Salas surprised the entire staff with a lunch prepared at the facility in French Camp.
According to Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann the event provided a rare opportunity for the many facets of the department to break bread together – an opportunity that is seldom provided.
“We don’t get to eat together very often – with so many different assignments everybody is kind of doing their own thing,” Biedermann said. “The civilian staff does their thing, and the custody and sworn staff each do their own thing, so this was a chance to sit down with people you don’t normally get to see – which was super nice for somebody to make happen.”
When the virus arrived on the scene the sheriff’s office began implementing changes that would allow flexibility and a level of protection that the regular schedule did not – allowing for officers to self-quarantine for two weeks at a time before going back onto their shift.
In order to do that Sheriff Pat Withrow had to reassign each of the county’s special teams and shuffle personnel in a way that provided an abundance of patrol deputies – which continued until last week when the process to revert back to previous assignments began.
According to Biedermann, things in Lathrop are completely back to normal with the exception of the school resource officers who are continuing to provide some of the flexibility while regular scheduling is phased back in.
In order to create the scheduling flexibility to made the rotating shifts possible, however, meant that deputies had to work 12.5 shifts on an extended schedule before being given a block of time off to take care of themselves and their families and to make sure that none of the sworn personnel became infected with COVID-19.
Having the community recognize the efforts that went into that process, Biedermann said – recognition that included the placement of inspirational signs near where deputies in their patrol car a few weeks ago, and the entire Home Depot Distribution Center in Tracy sending hundreds of bagels with the fixings to the Sheriff’s Office last week – has made the change and the shift back to normal easier for staff to handle.
“We’re working to roll back to some semblance of normal operations,” Biedermann said. “All of our special assignments are back in Lathrop, and we have traffic officers that are back on the street now.
“It’s nice that people recognize the work that we’re putting in here because that isn’t always the case. People have done some very nice things for us and we’re appreciative.”
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