The Community Policing Unit in Longford are usually employed in crime prevention duties, meeting with community groups and working with ethnic minorities and vulnerable people.
They are responsible for running the neighbourhood watch schemes, text alert schemes and designing projects to keep young people out of crime.
Since the Covid-19 crisis hit, they are at the forefront of reassuring scared communities that the gardaí are still active and present through using social media, high visibility and bike patrols as well as regular visits to community leaders.
For the Longford unit, one relationship in particular has proven very beneficial to isolated and vulnerable groups in the community.
Daragh Feighery of Center Parcs in Ballymahon got in touch with the community police with a view to donating produce from their stores to those in need. With Center Parcs closed, the food and other products it has were lying idle.
When contacted by Mr Feighery, Sgt Lionel Mullally and his gardaí were quickly able to nominate deserving groups to receive the goods.
Over the past two months, the unit has provided the Center Parcs goods to nursing homes across the county, to children’s care homes, to men and women’s homeless shelters, to older persons groups and to asylum centres in Longford.
Last week, Center Parcs donated several thousand euro of goods, including baby formula, that Longford gardaí brought to the Capuchin Centre in Dublin.
Distributing over a thousand meals a day, the centre provides a much needed resource to the most vulnerable families in the city.
The Longford gardaí met staff there, including Alan Bailey, a former garda sergeant, who has volunteered at the centre for almost 40 years.
There they were given a tour of the facilities and shown the work of the centre.
Sgt Lionel Mullally expressed his gratitude to Mr Feighery and Center Parcs Longford Forest staff, acknowledging that they have been “very generous in working with us and in supporting the most needy groups in Longford, and the Community Policing Unit were delighted to help out”.