County law enforcement’s response to COVID-19
Law enforcement is in contact with the public daily. With COVID-19, there are plenty of ways the virus can spread, but law enforcement is taking a practical approach to preventing the spread.
“Jail visitation to inmates from friends and family is temporarily suspended. This was at the strong recommendation from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards,” Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt said. “Jail ministries from outside human volunteers are temporarily suspended.”
But, the spread of the virus could also affect the inmates in jail. The county is taking extra precautions to protect individuals who are behind bars.
“Extra screening questions are being asked of arrested people when they are brought to jail, before admitting them into jail,” Sheriff Holt said. “Their temperature is also taken and new inmates (post-disaster declaration) are not housed with old inmates who are already here.”
This effort is an attempt by the Stephens County jail to prevent the spread of the virus, as an employee at the Bureau of Prisons administration facility in Grand Prairie tested positive for COVID-19.
“If an existing inmate is suspected to have COVID-19 or has been exposed, they will be housed separately,” Sheriff Holt said. “We are cleaning areas often in jail and other private and public areas of the LEC (law enforcement center). We are constantly assessing who in the jail should/could be released to keep our jail population as low as possible.”
Consistent with the state, Stephens County officials are taking the needed preventive measures to slow community spread.
“Jail staff is provided Vitamin C chewables at no cost to them,” Sheriff Holt said. “Jail staff, trustees and inmates are encouraged to wash hands often and are provided soap and hot water to do so. Generally, the sheriff’s office staff are educated on what to look for in themselves and others regarding symptoms of COVID-19. Told not to come to work if they believe they have been exposed or contracted it.”
Community officials will continue to monitor the situation.