The empty streets overwhelm, without children, but you are essential



When the state of alarm was declared for the coronavirus, Álvaro, the national police, was not on duty. Two days later he went out on patrol in the "Z" and could not help but feel "sadness", "pain", even "anguish", as he walked the streets of his city almost empty. He saw no children and that overwhelmed him. But you had to continue, it was essential.

Álvaro is stationed in the Citizen Security area of ​​a city in northern Spain and works shifts, now somewhat more flexible due to the pandemic. Personally, like any citizen, he is afraid of the coronavirus, but when he goes out to work he no longer thinks about it, only that it is part of an essential service, even more in a situation like the current one.

This agent, who prefers not to give his real name or the name of the city where he works, tells Efe that these feelings of sadness from the first moment parked them until the end of his day, because he was aware, as are all his colleagues - he emphasizes - that it is part of those essential services that a State must maintain in a health crisis as serious as this.

He began his journey with new planning. They would have tight shifts, always the same and with the same partner, avoiding the least possible contact with the relay.

Explains to Efe that they themselves disinfect the patrol vehicle that the agents of the previous shift have used and with hydro-alcoholic gel and paper that is taken from home to clean the steering wheel, the transmission equipment and the areas that are most handled.

For now they have nitrile gloves, but as Álvaro remembers, they also become contaminated and must be discarded immediately. He also has a mask, operating room type, but the Police have not provided them with the FFP2 or FFP3 type, which would be more useful to them. Some colleague bought it on time, because "now it is impossible to find."

There are already 157 National Police and Civil Guard officers infected with coronavirus. In addition, two members of the armed institute have died.

The security forces are exposed to this risk and their managers have tried to make working conditions more flexible so that they are exposed "as little as possible" but, at the same time, have "maximum availability". "So that when we fall, we have spare agents. That hard," adds Álvaro.

On the first day of work after the decree of the state of alarm, this police officer had a shift from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. It was Tuesday, but it seemed like a winter Sunday afternoon, but sadder, without children, or almost people on the street.

The agent had a summary of the restrictive measures of the decree that had been provided to him at the police station, although he had already hatched it.

His first intervention came after a call advising that two homeless people had broken into a courtyard of a public building. They wanted to be calm. "We already knew them. We talked to them and explained that given the situation, they could not be together and that, in addition, people would call if they saw them."

There were several interventions related to small groups of adolescents who gathered in parks, in contravention of the government decree.

Another of the actions was to mediate a door-to-door discussion of neighbors. Apparently, they had previous quarrels and the confinement made the spark jump, thinks this agent, who this intervention made him think about what can happen if the confinement is prolongs a long time.

The police recalls that 90 percent of the "Z's" interventions, at least in their city, are mediation and assistance, without detainees or proceedings.

Assistance such as the one carried out below because an elderly lady had fallen in the house and could not get up, continues the agent, who highlights the high number of inquiries from citizens who ask them if they can go visit their elders. Although it is allowed, Álvaro predicts a significant drop in visits.

"A lady asked us if she could go to her town to visit her father who suffers from Alzheimer's," he says.

Clandestine calls by open bars and some even amusing, such as that of a man who called the police to say that he couldn't stand his wife and wanted to leave home.

He does not know if sexist violence can also rebound in these days of forced confinement, but the truth is that in his police station every day there are two or three detainees and on his first day there were none.

In any case, Álvaro believes that it is early to know if the confinement and the economic crisis that the measures of the decree entail, with the closure of small businesses, will result in an increase in crimes (looting, robberies, sexist violence, family brawls. ..).

Meanwhile, this agent asks for protection against the coronavirus for the police, because they are essential, but also, because they are also essential, for the restrooms, the supermarket cashiers, the truckers ..., for all those who, like him, expose themselves, because for them the StayAtHome is not valid.

"You have to keep them whatever and protect them," at least with "a few minimums," he adds.

And in the case of the Police, demand at least one FFP2 mask for each agent, who is instructed on how to keep or sterilize them if possible, and protective glasses. At the moment, he uses the ones on the bike.

Are you afraid of getting it ?, we asked him. "Only for my son, in case something happens to me. I am afraid of my son's future," he replies.

Sagrario Ortega

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