The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has lost two of their own to COVID-19: Deputy Terrell Young, 52, and Deputy David Werksman, 51, plus two are in the hospital, dozens have tested positive for the virus and dozens are more awaiting test results.
Sheriff Chad Bianco says losing these deputies to the virus is tough, “This is a horrible tragedy that has come upon our department, this is something different than we have ever experienced.”
An invisible enemy has been added to the list of threats they have to deal with everyday.
“The dangers of violence, the dangers of vehicle accidents, the dangers we’re posed with everyday, this is just something new and something different that we’re now having to deal with,” says Bianco.
They are practicing social distancing, limiting contact with inmates, isolating those who are positive and testing those exposed but the reality is this job cannot be done remotely.
“We are forced to have contact with people everyday, we are answering calls for service, we still have to arrest people, we still have inmates in our jails that we deal with on a daily basis, and we are having to put processes in place that change our normal behavior,” says Bianco.
They reassigned over 100 deputies who were working in the court system to add to their patrol and jail personnel. This new normal now includes planning for the worst.
“I am working closely with all the chiefs of police and we are monitoring each other’s departments to make sure that we’re not losing people to where staffing levels are going down and then we’re going to compensate with each other, help each other to make sure that we’re able to protect the citizens of Riverside County,” he says.
He says despite the risk his department is stepping up, “We have a job to do and I‘m proud of everybody for continuing to do it well.”
He asks you honor the lives taken from this virus by staying home, “If something good can come out of this is that the general public sees the seriousness of this and finally really starts obeying the stay at home orders and the closure of non essential business because this can happen to you, this can happen to your family, this could happen to your friend.”