COVID Diaries: Ultimately for the public safety |

COVID Diaries: Ultimately for the public safety

Rifle Police Officer Jared Bartunek and K9 Jax in Rifle, Colorado.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Editor’s note: This is one of three vignettes highlighting individual Garfield County residents as part of the statewide COVID Diaries project.

Out on patrol, Rifle Police Officer Jared Bartunek hesitated to say the “S” word — slow.

But that’s how it can feel these days.

With a decrease in calls, Bartunek and his K-9 partner Jax were in his cubicle at the station finishing up paperwork April 16.

“The hard part about this for a cop, at least for myself, I like being proactive. I’m not someone who likes to sit back at the police department and type all day long. I don’t want to get all my paperwork done, I want to go out and do something, I want to fight crime and protect the community,” Bartunek said.

In the weeks since COVID-19 became widespread in Colorado, Change has been constant for Bartunek and fellow officers.

“Never going through something like this especially as a police officer, but even as a civilian, not knowing with the orders coming down who is enforcing this, how is it enforced and to what degree” can be challenging, Bartunek said.

The nature of the calls they receive have changed as well, he added.

“There’s been a lot of uncertainty when it comes to stay-at-home orders, and when people see people without facemask nowadays, they are calling us,” Bartunek said.

Getting past the strange feeling of wearing masks for both his own safety and the public’s, Bartunek recalls the emphasis on community policing during training. Of getting to know your community and making yourself known — something which becomes more difficult from behind a mask.

“That relationship with citizens is one of the best ways to fight crime,” Bartunek said.

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