Mich. sheriff's office, jail staff braces for COVID-19
Medical staff at the jail will be screening those arrested for symptoms of the novel coronavirus
By Corey Murray
Hillsdale Daily News
HILLSDALE, Mich. — The Hillsdale County Sheriff's Office is taking necessary precautions to mitigate inmate and staff exposures to COVID-19.
Undersheriff Carl Albright said the department has worked with Hillsdale County judges in the last few days in developing new precautionary directives for its staff.
In doing so, it has been determined the sheriff's office will no longer go out and actively search for residents with non-violent, misdemeanor warrants, such as bench warrants for failure to pay fines.
Road patrol deputies have also been given guidance to issue appearance citations instead of lodging persons charged with those non-violent misdemeanor offenses.
Albright said medical staff at the jail will also be screening those arrested for symptoms of the coronavirus. Based on the screenings, the Hillsdale County Jail could refuse to lodge someone charged with a crime, Albright said.
Those charged with more serious offenses who exhibit symptoms of coronavirus will be placed in medical segregation, Albright said, which is a very limited capability at the jail.
Road patrol deputies have been issued masks to place over the mouths of anyone coughing that has been arrested while in transit to the jail.
The sheriff's office has also increased its cleaning efforts at the jail to include double cleanings for road patrol vehicles.
Albright said that while precautions are being taken to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus people should not panic.
"We have to keep level heads," Albright said.
Inmate visitations have been done by video for months and that will not change.
Court appearances for inmates lodged at the jail will mostly transition to video appearances, unless otherwise directed by the courts.
©2020 Hillsdale Daily News, Mich.