PINE BLUFF, Ark. – A letter has been issued by the sheriff of Jefferson County in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The full letter sent on Tuesday is below.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office takes the health of our deputies, staff, and our community seriously. Due to the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and health concerns, we have made these changes to protect our deputies and the community. We will be temporarily altering our response to non-active, non-life-threatening incidents. In an effort to ensure that our law enforcement officers remain healthy and available to handle emergencies, we are taking measures to lessen their opportunity to be exposed to the virus by reducing face-to-face contacts in non-emergent situations.
This is a unique situation, the likes of which most of us have never experienced before. Again, our number one priority is the safety and security of the community we serve, and we believe that in the short term, this is the best way to maintain that.
If citizens need to file a complaint for something that is non-emergent (thefts, custody disputes, found/missing property, animal complaints), please visit the Jefferson County webpage and complete a Non-Consent Form and a Voluntary Statement Form. These forms have “submit” buttons which will send them directly to a monitored email inbox, and someone will be in contact with you regarding your complaint within 24 hours.
You can find the forms by going to www.jeffcoso.org, clicking on Departments, then Links & Resources. It is important that you include as much information as you can before submitting.
If you do not have access to the internet, dispatch can transfer your call to a staff member of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, who can assist you with completing the form via telephone.
The Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association (MECA) will continue to receive the initial calls for service and complaints. For calls for service deemed an emergency, the questions will be asked:
- Are you currently being monitored for the COVID-19 (AKA Coronavirus)?
- Do you have any of the following symptoms: Fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
- Have you recently traveled to known COVID-19 high-risk areas? If any answers are YES, dispatch personnel and responding staff will determine the most appropriate response.
Response to calls for service:
• Deputies are directed to use social distancing to avoid unnecessary physical contact with anyone not under arrest. This may include keeping a distance of 6 feet or more when possible and avoiding shaking hands with members of the public.
• Deputies may wear Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves when physical contact is necessary.
• Deputies may take offense reports via phone, rather than in person, when possible.
Temporary changes in office services:
• Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office public events, such as town halls and community programs, have been temporarily suspended.
• Fingerprinting services are suspended.
• The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is unable to accept food donations at its office at this time.
• Office visits are suspended.
• Off-duty staffing of special events is suspended.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners during this time and we will continue to ensure public safety is our top priority.
Lafayette Woods, Jr.