I think most people have heard the saying, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” I first heard the saying when I was in the Marine Corps, and it rang true for several situations, but not all.
Criticism, unlike toilet paper and hand sanitizer, is currently abundant in our country. Some of the criticism toward the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic may be just and some may not, but let’s take a look at our situation in Phoenix.
The preparedness of our Department directly affects the safety of our community.
I know it is extremely difficult to prepare for everything, but public safety should at the very least have the basics. When things got serious for us, what did we lack? N95 masks and hand sanitizer. Items normally taken for granted have suddenly become a hot commodity. Every patrol precinct had a deficit of these items and no one was on the same page as far as future supply was concerned. One assistant chief would say we had plenty, while another would say we had to order more. City Human Resources said we had everything we needed. This was not true, at least when this started. Regardless, police were still expected to perform normal functions in abnormal times, with or without personal protective equipment (PPE).
Conversations with other labor organizations in our city revealed they too were ill-equipped. So much so that some were willing to pay ridiculous prices for items that our employer should be providing when expecting their employees to work in dangerous conditions.
The example of the masks and sanitizer is only one picture in need of improvement should something like this occur in the future.
If we are required to serve our community in times of crisis, we should be equipped with all the tools to keep us safe while doing so. Police are exempt from ordered public safety precautions, which is expected. But, like other first responders, we too have families and loved ones who should not be subject to exposure because our employer was ill-equipped to provide both material and information key to our safety.
What lessons were learned? PPE stock should be first on the list for police supply and should reflect accurate employee numbers for an extended period of time. PLEA may also be able to solve some of the problems in future contracts.
The preparedness of our Department directly affects the safety of our community, and I hope our City Council recognizes that.
Please stay safe and healthy.