In 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.
The Light Ohio Blue is a statewide campaign to show support to the law enforcement personnel who protect citizens throughout Ohio. The Light Ohio Blue campaign coincides with activities associated with Police Week. This year’s dates were Friday, May 8, to Friday, May 15. For the first time in its history, the 39th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in Washington, D.C., was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It a big to-do and it’s just an honor to see how many police departments come for that,” Debby Brewer, Interim Chief of the Portsmouth Police Department, said. Brewer said the Portsmouth Police Department has always sent a police officer to the ceremony and commented on how great the ceremony is for officers.
The city of Columbus still had its Light It Blue Ohio Caravan with patrols all across the state participating, but this year they took the Caravan to all the hospitals, to thank the workers for the work they have been doing during the pandemic. Here in Portsmouth, residents can give a thumbs-up to officers if they see an officer letting them know they are appreciated by the citizens they protect since there are no ceremonies this year.
Brewer has been with the Portsmouth Police Department for more than 27 years and up until the time she was named interim Chief, she was a captain. Brewer stepped right in and took the role of police chief when Robert Ware, the former police chief, left Portsmouth.
As for how her police department is doing their work during the coronavirus, Brewer said, “Our officers are being instructed to take as many reports over the phone as possible. If it requires that we must collect evidence or come for fingerprints, we still have to go. But if we can take it over the phone, we will protect our officers and protect the public. The social distancing, we need to stay apart, but if we have to be there, we will be there.”
The Portsmouth Police Department has 39 officers and one in the academy.
Brewer continued, “Any act of violence, we are responding, regardless, it doesn’t matter. We’re still doing things somewhat normal except for taking things over the phone as much as we possibly can.” She said that they may not have been doing as many traffic stops as before, but that that too is about to change as the new transitions are set in place by the Governor.
“We are providing three levels of protection as far as masks, we have surgical masks, N95 masks and they have respirators. It is totally up to them as far as what level they want to wear. Any time they come in contact with someone that is suspected of having it, they are definitely wearing it. If not, and they are going on calls, I am perfectly fine with it if they want to wear it. If they do not, that’s their choice and it’s been provided for them.”
Brewer said that they are keeping the six-foot distancing and are not coming in the station for anything. They mark on air that they are available. She said that the record clerk and administrative assistant are alternating days off, which she says kind of limits everyone’s exposure. She said that her officers had done very well with the changes that they have had to take during this time, but they are just very eager to get back business as usual. She said that she has a very young department and they are all go-getters and they want to get out there and do their job, but they are listening to the governor and trying to follow his lead.
When asked about going from captain to police chief, she said that its a different aspect of policing. Instead of getting out and patrolling the streets, you are now in charge of the whole department and making sure your guys have what they need. They are treating the public the way they should be.
Brewer said of being Chief, “I have enjoyed it. I really wasn’t’ use to making decisions that would affect so many people, but that’s what you have to do when you are in this position.” She was also asked if she had ever had the inspiration for this position and she said when she first hired on, she did, but later she humorously said that she thought it was too much of a headache. She also spoke about Captain Jason Hedrick, the patrol captain, “He is amazing, he is right there, we make decisions together, and it helps to have someone to help, he takes a lot of my burden away, I will say that. And I truly appreciate him and my administrative staff, they are awesome.”
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights