News | May 16, 2022

DLA police stayed on the beat during COVID-19 pandemic

By Nancy Benecki

Editor’s Note: May 15-21 is National Police Week, an annual observance created in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy to recognize law enforcement officers’ service and sacrifice.

The last two years have been dramatically different for the Defense Logistics Agency workforce. Most employees were teleworking and staying apart to remain safe and healthy.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 70 police officers worked 12-hour shifts providing access control and protection to about 5,000 employees at DLA’s Fort Belvoir, Virginia, headquarters. Even though the workforce remained at home during the pandemic, the officers continued patrolling their regular beats.

“It was very lonesome, it was quiet,” said Captain Doris Green, Charlie shift commander and administrator for the DLA Police Force who has been with the agency for 14 years. “It was like something went off, and everybody disappeared. We were the only ones who were here 24/7 as the police force of the headquarters, so we only relied on each other's company.”

Telework wasn’t an option for law enforcement.

“You can’t remotely be a cop,” said Mark Banks, DLA’s law enforcement program manager since July 2021.

“Officers had to show up on a daily basis,” Banks said. “Some of them got sick and were exposed to COVID-19. It was a very, very challenging time and a very challenging aspect of what they do.”

As employees return to the office, police remain prepared to keep everyone safe, Green said. There will be more officers at gates to perform security checks and control the flow of cars and pedestrians.  

Employees should also use common sense for their own safety during reentry, Green said. That includes minding warning signs and watching out for safety hazards such as uneven ground or sidewalks. Take care in parking areas to avoid accidents and bring a cell phone when going outside, she added.

Officers throughout DLA and across the country are holding observances this week to observe National Police Week, and many attend national events at the U.S. Capitol.