IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Idaho Falls Police Officers have made an important addition to their uniforms.
"Our officers are all wearing masks. They'll have an N-95 mask if they're interacting with people out in the field, then we just have the regular cloth masks for just being in public, so they're all wearing masks and protective equipment," said Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson.
When it comes to staying protected from a disease, Johnson says, it's nothing new.
"We've gone through an aids epidemic, we've gone through MRSA, we've gone to SARS, lice, bedbugs, hepatitis. You know, there's all sorts of these communicable diseases that police officers and other first responders or emergency workers are subject to getting."
Officers risk their own lives every day to keep the public safe, however, during a pandemic like this one, theres a lot more at risk.
"It's a lot harder though, because with a disease like this, you can take it home to your family to your kids, your spouse," Johnson said.
IFPD is also screening calls to identify those that really need an officer present and those that can be simply reported online through their crime reporting system.
"If there's an emergency we'll still send an officer out in person to deal with the emergency, but if it's not an emergency we'll have the officer call the person up and talk to them first and determine whether we actually need to have a face to face contact or not. So we're trying to limit the in person contacts as much as reasonably possible," Johnson said.
Ultimately the community has been a great support. One neighbor even donated N-95 masks for the officers.
“We've had businesses bring pizza, we've had some businesses bring food, some of the restaurants that are operating at full capacity and they've decided to just bring stuff down for the officers and say thank you. You know there's been cards and all sorts of good well wishes from lots of great people in the community, so we're feeling a lot of love," Johnson said.