COVID-19 has caused police departments to take extra precautions in the way they conduct business.
According to Tellico Plains Police Chief Jeb Brown, most of the impact from COVID affected the department during the start of the pandemic.
“We took the extra precautions with personal protective equipment (PPE) early on when this first started,” said Brown. “Now we still use precautions when stopping a vehicle or going on calls, but we are not necessarily wearing masks with every call.”
He stated the department will utilize their PPE when they are directly contacting other people or the elderly.
“If we get any kind of medical call or where we are dealing with the elderly then we will take the extra precautions there,” he stated as an example.
Aside from the PPE, Brown believes the pandemic hasn’t changed much of their operations.
“The biggest thing that comes to mind for me is the PPE,” he noted. “We have started to get somewhat back to normal even though it (the virus) is still a real threat out here. I don’t think there is anything to change.”
He believes the “roughest part” of the pandemic was the beginning.
“It was an adjustment on how we want to run things with the small department that we have,” Brown stated. “We have put on an extra part time officer during this time, which we even had an officer that had tested positive and he had to be quarantined so there were times the pandemic had put a strain on us, so having the additional officer really helps with our needs.”
COVID has affected the department in another way outside of how they conduct their practices.
“We have seen a large increase of people coming through town because, early on when everything was closed down, people were getting out and going to the mountains,” he noted. “Especially Friday through Sunday. There were a lot of times where I was putting on two officers during those busy times just because of the traffic.”
According to Brown, Tellico Plains is usually busy during the spring, summer and fall as people tend to flock towards the mountain.
“We have probably doubled our traffic since the COVID,” said Brown.
He believes the increase in traffic is a good thing for the town of Tellico Plains.
“I think people have realized that we have things to offer in town and, once COVID is over, they will continue to visit,” he said. “That is just going to bring more tourism and more money into our city.”