Checking in: A conversation with Tom Hamann
As part of a new series called "Checking In," the Review talked with Lake Oswego Police Sgt. Tom Hamann about how his life and his job at the Lake Oswego Police Department have been impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, as well as challenges and takeaways he's had during these last few months.
Parts of this conversation have been edited for clarity.
How has your life been impacted by the pandemic?
The pandemic has definitely been an unsettling time for everyone, myself included. I worry about being exposed at work and then bringing that home to my family. I also worry about becoming sick and then bringing it to work and impacting our staffing levels. As a result, I try very hard to follow the physical distancing guidelines, wear a mask whenever I'm around other people or in public places, and wash my hands frequently. It has also caused me to just be a little more thoughtful about the things I do when I'm not at home. Do I really need to go to the grocery store? Can I combine trips to reduce the amount of time I'm out?
How has your job been impacted during the health crisis?
As a police department, we are used to having to be flexible and nimble when it comes to changing laws, procedures and safety guidelines, so this has been yet another opportunity for us to utilize that skill. We still have to do our job every day to keep the community safe, so we have had to find ways to do some things that reduce the amount of risk we are putting our officers in. We are wearing personal protective equipment whenever we have to be in close proximity to people, we are taking some reports over the phone and our dispatchers are asking questions of our callers about illness in the home so as to help inform our response to the call. Other aspects of our job have also been impacted. Things like court appearances have almost all been postponed, self-initiated activity has been reduced and we are all taking our temperature every day we come to work, prior to entering the building.
From an LOPD officer's perspective, what have you noticed about the community since the pandemic began?
While there are some who disagree with the stay-at-home order and the level of caution that is being observed and encouraged, the vast majority of our citizens are showing just how much of a community we really are. They are doing their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. They are wearing masks when they go out, maintaining appropriate physical distancing when they do have to be around other people, they are being patient with each other, they are helping each other and they are helping out small businesses. Basically, they are all trying to do their part so we can minimize the impact of this dangerous pandemic.
What have you done to stay busy at home during the pandemic?
I have spent a lot of time working in my yard and working on my chicken coop!
Have you picked up any new hobbies?
My only new hobby is being an urban farmer/chicken dad.
What is something that you miss doing that you did before the governor's stay-at-home order?
I sing in a choir and am a member of a light opera company. I very much miss being able to rehearse together and perform together. I also miss going to the movies!
What do you think one of your biggest takeaways during the health crisis has been?
This health crisis reminds me of being in the military and of being a police officer for almost 22 years, in that it has been about personal sacrifice for the greater good.
Have you managed to stay connected to family and friends during the pandemic?
My choir has weekly Zoom rehearsals and I text with my family and friends.
Are there any new books, TV shows or movies you've gotten into since the pandemic began? If so, care to share any of your favorites?
I have really gotten into the HGTV show, "Bargain Mansions." That, and pretty much any other remodeling show. They give us great ideas for things we can do at home!
What is the biggest change you've had to adjust to during the current health crisis?
As I mentioned earlier, I have had to be much more thoughtful about errands or things I want to do. I can't just run to a store on a whim or go shopping for nothing in particular.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I think the hardest part is yet to come, really. As communities start to ease restrictions, it will be incredibly difficult for many people to remain cautious and not jump back into things that could cause a resurgence of COVID-19. I would encourage people to do their best to be patient as restrictions ease, to continue to practice appropriate physical distancing and to wear masks as long as they are recommended. We're all in this together!
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