Law Enforcement agencies working to protect employees, inmates, from exposure to coronavirus

CRAWFORD, CHEROKEE AND BOURBON COUNTY, Kan. – Sheriff’s offices across southeast Kansas are trying to find ways to keep their employees and inmates healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, while still protecting the community.

“A lot of it goes back to just making sure that we’re following the guidance of health professionals,” says Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves.

We spoke to Cherokee, Crawford, and Bourbon Counties — all of which are doing extra sanitation in lobbies, their cars and in their jails.

They are also having to get creative with inmate intake because it’s not possible for inmates to be six feet apart of practice social distancing.

“Any inmate that we have presented at the jail to be booked in, we’re adding an additional questionnaire regarding their recent health, any type of travel, things like that. And then we’re also taking their temperature before putting them in population,” says Groves.

Groves is also encouraging family members of inmates to use their video visitation service from home, instead of coming to the jail to talk face to face. The service fee for the service has been reduced during the pandemic. He’s also encouraging anyone that calls 9-1-1 for a medical call to let dispatchers know if they have symptoms or have traveled to an area where the Coronavirus is widespread.

The Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Fort Scott Police Department to prioritize who they arrest. They’ve also closed their front lobby to the public, for at least the next 30 days.

“There are certain arrests that are mandated by the state, so we can’t get out of those. Those arrests are still gonna happen. My main focus is keeping the inmates that I have right now currently in the facility safe from anything coming in,” says Major Bobby Reed with the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Bill Martin also says the Bourbon County attorney is looking into what inmates they could temporarily release.

Over in Crawford County, Sheriff Danny Smith says courts will be closed for the rest of the week (From 03/18 to 03/23).

The sheriff’s office will also be suspending VIN inspections and offender registration, as well as screening people before they come in the lobby.

All to give them more time to come up with a long term plan.

“When you’re trying to operate and do business and trying to decide a plan, it’s kinda tough. So, I mean, just trying to slow things down a little bit,” says Crawford County Sheriff Danny Smith.

All three departments say no matter what they’ll still protect their communities every day.