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Beyond the Lights: Fear, depression fill officers’ minds

This series of day-in-the-life of stories provides a candid look behind the scenes of the Boulder City police officers who protect and serve Boulder City.

Here are some of remarkable public servants’ candid thoughts, freely translated and interpreted, composed completely with the utmost respect, compassion, understanding and with my deepest heart’s love poured into it as they deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

One law enforcement officer working in Boulder City told me of the anxiety they began to experience when they first learned how serious and deadly COVID-19 can be to those who become infected and how it can strike so quickly, sometimes without a single symptom to give warning. I could hear their voice breaking as they spoke candidly about their feelings.

With those thoughts going on in their mind, their fear became fixed on the likelihood of a higher rate of infection hitting a small-town setting such as Boulder City.

The extreme fear is that they might unknowingly bring this stealth killer home to their family and loved ones, or maybe themselves fall victim to its nondiscriminating attack. Yet they showed up for every shift assigned to them, put on that uniform and badge, and hit the streets honoring their commitment to protect and serve the residents of Boulder City and its surrounding communities. They literally shove that anxiety, that fear of the unknown, to the back of their minds, setting aside the thoughts they now carry in their own plight to do the job of a law enforcement officer as if nothing has changed, helping people, pets and wildlife in the course of their day.

An officer working in Las Vegas tells me of the sudden onset of what they can only describe as some form of depression after learning about COVID-19. They’ve been experiencing a strong feeling of being lost, unable to plan their next day, let alone the next few hours of the day. They find that they’re now distancing themselves from friends and from committing to attend future social events that they used to not be able to get enough of.

They find themselves sitting at home with all the blinds and windows closed, doors shut and locked, just sitting in the darkness and silence of the room thinking of nothing for hours at a time when they arrive home from a shift at the police department. They try to slow their mind down, getting back to a regular thought rhythm after spending a day with their mind reeling in the COVID-19 pandemic madness. They are just trying to become emotionally steady enough to get up to undress, take a shower and maybe go in the kitchen and fix a bite to eat before climbing into bed to rest their body so they can endure another day ahead of the unknown and the madness.

One law enforcement officer working in another nearby city tells of how things changed so quickly that those in uniform couldn’t even catch a breath to process what was happening. They just had to jump into it blind and with faith that they’ll all get through it somehow without suffering a loss of a fellow officer, family member or friend. They wondered, like all the rest, if they would fall victim to COVID-19. They had no personal protective equipment; they were completely vulnerable to virus exposure in more ways than one can count.

They were concerned if layoffs would hit the police departments. They were worried about their home, cars and creditors as their spouse had already suffered a furlough from their job. Now, they only had one income where it’s taken two incomes just to pay the bills. They cried out, “What are we all going do without jobs and access to assistance? We don’t qualify for stimulus, God, girl! Please pray for us. Pray for Nevada. Pray for this nation. Tell me what are we going to do?”

Aly Rashaad is a dispatcher in Southern Nevada. She served as the director of fundraising and marketing for the LASD Road Racing Association for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which provided the NASCAR and positive leadership experience to at-risk inner-city youth. She can be reached at Alys.View@ymail.com.

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