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Press Release: Collin County Sheriff’s Office and COVID-19

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CCSO COVID19 press release

For Immediate Release: March 26, 2020

The President has declared a national emergency related to COVID-19, and the County Judge has declared a state of disaster and a public-health emergency for Collin County.  I want to take this opportunity to tell you about some steps we’re taking at the Collin County Sheriff’s Office in response to this ongoing pandemic. But, first, I wanted to remind you of a few things:

It’s your community. Your county government, your county sheriff’s office, your county jail. You and your children live here. Please follow the public-health advice from the CDC and the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.  Follow the shelter-in-place orders and advice from your county and municipal government officials. Stay home when you can; wash your hands often; cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough; stay six feet away from others; travel only when reasonably necessary; avoid groups of 10 or more people. Not everyone needs to be tested for the coronavirus. If you think that you need to be tested, call your local physician and describe your situation and confirm that testing is recommended and available. Don’t read the rules and try to figure out how you can get away with something. We need to try and follow the rules and be considerate of one another now, more than ever.  Don’t drive recklessly or speed just because you think no one’s watching. Do more. Follow the Golden Rule. I’m counting on you. It’s your community.

— Jim Skinner, Sheriff    

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In light of President Donald Trump’s March 13 declaration of a national emergency related to COVID-19 and County Judge Chris Hill’s related March 16 declaration of a state of disaster and a public-health emergency for Collin County, Sheriff Jim Skinner and the Collin County Sheriff’s Office have implemented a COVID-19 mitigation plan. Drawing on CDC and other public-health recommendations, the CCSO’s plan is designed to protect the public, the deputy sheriffs, detention officers, telecommunicators, and other staff of the CCSO, and all of the inmates in our custody and control.

Sheriff Jim Skinner and the deputies, officers and staff at the CCSO remain dedicated to public safety and delivering excellent services in all areas, including patrol, the county jail, criminal investigations, and dispatch.

  • To date, the Collin County Detention Facility has no confirmed case of COVID-19.

  • The Detention Facility is screening all persons—including peace and corrections officers and their detainees—who come to the Facility’s main detainee entrance—the sally port—for fever and symptoms consistent with influenza or COVID-19. Medical staff from WellPath, the County’s medical provider for the jail, assist in the screening and assessments.

  • The detention staff will separately book detainees with suspected COVID-19 symptoms and segregate them from other detainees. They will use even greater precautions and segregation techniques in the case of a detainee with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

  • The Detention Facility has enhanced the cleaning procedures for housing, common, dining, and other areas, including cleaning them multiple times per day. Inmates may also participate in some of the cleaning.

  • The detention staff has started monitoring inmates for symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as coughing and shortness of breath, and spot checking inmates’ temperatures several times a day. They consult with WellPath’s medical providers in appropriate cases.

  • The Detention Facility monitors CDC guidelines and other new information about the coronavirus and recommended practices and advises the inmates about recommended hygiene, cleaning, and social-distancing practices.

  • On March 11, Sheriff Skinner asked local officials and police chiefs in Collin County for their help in using their judgment before arresting persons for Class C misdemeanors and non-violent crimes and using cite-and-release options where consistent with public safety. The police chiefs have strongly supported the Sheriff and reduced the number of low-risk detainees coming to the county jail.

  • Consistent with the first emergency order regarding the COVID-19 disaster from the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, the District Courts and County Courts at Law in Collin County temporarily suspended interim, weekend, and work-release commitments as part of sentences or conditions of community supervision until May 4. This measure will reduce the number of persons checking in and out of the Detention Facility.

  • On March 13 and 19, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, with the Office of the Governor’s approval, suspended the rules for visitation programs and educational and rehabilitation programs for county jails as part of the State’s response to the disaster. The Detention Facility closed visitation and programs as well.

  • In addition, the Sheriff’s Office is taking extra precautions with regard to attorneys visiting inmate-clients. For example, the County offers limited video conferencing between attorneys at the County courthouse and inmates in the Detention Facility. Inmates may also phone their attorneys from the Facility. And the Detention Facility is screening attorneys who seek to visit inmates in the county jail.

  • The Sheriff’s Office has also increased each inmate’s allotment of no-cost phone calls per month. Friends and family may also make deposits to an inmate’s commissary or phone account through links available on the County’s website or the Sheriff’s App.

  •  In another effort to reduce the Detention Facility’s inmate population, the Collin County courts are reviewing their use of electronic GPS monitoring of defendants for pretrial release.

  •  The Detention Facility is preparing electronic procedures for local licensed bond agencies to conduct more of their transactions with the Facility by email and phone.

  • While the Patrol Section continues to patrol the nearly 500 square miles of the unincorporated areas in the County and their patrol districts, Patrol Deputies are also practicing social distancing, like trying to conduct business outdoors in the fresh air instead of in private residences or businesses and initially responding to reports of crimes not in progress by phone or email. Patrol deputies will also use PPE, such as gloves and mask, to reduce face-to-face contact in responding to some calls. Patrol deputies will continue to respond to verbal and physical domestic disputes and ongoing assaults in person.

  •  In Criminal Investigations, investigators, detectives, and forensic analysts continue to investigate crimes without interruption. Like Patrol deputies, these officers will also practice social distancing. They will respond to calls not in progress by phone or email. And, if you report a crime, they may contact you and ask questions by phone and, if possible, obtain victim or witness statements by email.

  • In light of the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America and the Order of the County Judge (Mar. 20, 2020) by County Judge Chris Hill, which closed county governmental offices for unscheduled, in-person services, the Warrants and Bonds Section of the Sheriff’s Office is now accepting more warrants and bonds paperwork by email and fax, including paperwork from bond agencies for a discharge of liability.

  • The telecommunicators—the 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers—in the Communications Center are receiving a greater influx of calls related to the coronavirus and information that people hear in the media. Persons with an emergency should call 9-1-1, and persons with other calls may reach the Communications Center at 972.547.5350. Because the telecommunicators must still answer and dispatch emergency and other calls for service, they will refer callers with public-health questions to the County Public Health number 972.548.5500. The County’s website has additional public-health information available through the coronavirus image link.

  • Sheriff Jim Skinner and the men and women of the CCSO will continue to work hard to protect public safety, keep the peace, and enforce the law. They are monitoring CDC and other public-health recommendations, as well as the recommendations from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Collin County Judge Chris Hill and the Commissioners Court, to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 to the county jail.


MEDIA CONTACT

Captain Nick Bristow, Public Information Officer

nbristow@collincountytx.gov

Main: 972.547.5100 Direct: 972.547.5125