Law and order in the time of Coronavirus

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By Michael Axt

In tones of both consolation and caveat, Gardena Police Chief Mike Saffell last week addressed the dilemmas facing Gardena and its residents during this historic pandemic and its world-shaking, domino effects.

“Our city has worked hard to make sure that we give our community as much information as possible,” said Saffell, 48, who was promoted to GPD chief less than six months ago.

Saffell highlighted the combined efforts of the city departments with a litany of services and programs including detailed pharmacy delivery services, food distribution locations and times, welfare check information, fraud alerts, testing sites, food assistance resources, homeless shelter and mental health referrals, hygiene services, and restaurant and business updates.

However, Saffell underscored the importance of the “Safer at Home” Order and cautioned the public-at-large “that there is no reason to hoard food. Our food supply chain and markets have continuous deliveries (and) there will be plenty for everyone.”

Saffell supported a good neighbor policy, urging citizens to check in on neighbors. “Please check on your neighbors, especially on our senior citizens. Call them on the phone,” he added.

Saffell assured fellow citizens that “our community should feel confident that the Gardena Police Department is well prepared to weather this crisis and continue to serve our community.” GPD officers and staff are “healthy” and are not infected with COVID-19,   As of April 9, there have been 47 recorded cases of COVID-19 in Gardena, according to Daily Breeze reported updates.

Since the outbreak erupted last November in China, the virus has had a swift, global trajectory, and as of last weekend the United States has tabulated a death toll of 20,600 deaths, ranking as the world’s highest.

As a consequence, the impact on the economy has witnessed unprecedented business restrictions, furloughed and unemployed workers and the filing of more than 17 million applications for unemployment benefits in three weeks.

In Gardena, Saffell confirmed that there are businesses in violation of the Los Angeles County order to shut down ‘“non-essential” stores, firms and companies.

“We have conducted enforcement on several businesses that were in violation of the County order. Violation of the order is a misdemeanor and Overall, our community has done a great job at complying with the order on a personal and business level.” Although there is no “one formula” that can be applied to every police department, Saffell stated that “there has been changes to the way we police. Policing is a ‘people’ businesses. It requires social interaction and social contact. I have had to put certain protocols in place, in a very short amount if time, to make sure all my employees are safe, but can continue to do their job,” said Saffell.

In conclusion, Saffell reflected, “My thoughts are always with those who are struggling the most, those that may be ill because of the virus or for those who may have lost a loved one. We will all get through this difficult time together. As time goes on (if not already), people may become frustrated and tired of the “Safer at Home” order. This time will pass. We will be stronger and wiser because of it. Let’s be kind to each other. Be patient. And stay at home because you can be the difference.”

Individuals wanting daily updates in the form of texts and/or emails can register by simply texting CV19GAR to 888-777, visit the website at https://alertsouthbay.com/, or download the Everbridge Application. 

The City of Gardena website contains all of the information that has been distributed over the past four weeks.

Our website address is https://www.cityofgardena.org/coronavirus-covid-19/