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Law enforcement and COVID-19

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by SARAH NACHIN
HERNANDO SUN

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COVID-19 has taken a toll on everyone – emotionally, financially and physically. However, no one faces the stress of this current crisis like our first responders, doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel. 

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) has done a good job of keeping the public up-to-date on statistics as well as encouraging everyone to try and continue life as normal within the COVID-19 guidelines. Almost every day Sheriff Nienhuis appears in a video outside a local eatery or other business asking people to support our local businesses. 
On the frontlines, things have been fairly normal despite the situation. 

According to Major Cyrus Robinson, Law Enforcement Operations Bureau Commander, two of HCSO’s primary concerns have been, “Providing accurate and timely information to the agency personnel regarding revised protocols and procedures, as well as providing the necessary PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and associated items to them.

Crime has not increased dramatically, if at all. The only increase has been with young people out and about in the evening and early morning hours. Some criminal mischiefs and burglaries have been committed as a result of their presence. Despite the stress that everyone is feeling, the public has been very cooperative. Fewer vehicles on the road has meant fewer accidents, especially at night. The Coronavirus hasn’t meant that we can all take a pass at driving regulations. Citations or written warnings are still being issued as violations are observed.   

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“Regarding crime, law enforcement and people’s attitude, there has been really no hostility from citizens and I believe that they realize that this is a new situation and that we have to work together to get through it,” states Robinson.

“Most people are confused as to what they can and cannot do, so it’s been more about education than enforcement to this point. At some point that may change if necessary,” he concludes.

Fortunately, HCSO has contingency plans for a situation such as we’re facing now and has been able to address manpower needs. The sheriff’s office has not had to place undue burdens on its personnel by requiring overtime.   

As far as the incarceration of criminals, there have been some dramatic changes put in place. For example, many in-person court appearances have transitioned to video. With the governor’s newest executive order the Hernando County Jail has suspended all inmate visitation for the next thirty days.

Major Shaun Klucznik, Judicial Services Bureau Commander and Jail Administrator, states, “We established a quarantine housing unit on the day the first official case of COVID-19 in Hernando County was announced. 

The first group of individuals were scheduled to clear quarantine on Friday, April 3. 

“We will continue to quarantine all new intakes for fourteen days. We have limited housing assignment changes and stopped all non-employee entrance to the facility,” Klucznik adds. 

Those inmates who are released on bail, paroled or have served their time are allowed to leave as there have been no cases of COVID-19 at the facility. 

“If we were to have a positive case [in someone] being released we would collaborate with the Department of Health on how to best arrange release,” Klucznik states. 

To conclude, we need to live as normal a life as possible within the governor’s latest Executive Order (EO). 

The Hernando County Sheriff’s office recommends that people, “Use common sense to determine if their actions violate the Governors EO. Remember this is not a lock down where they have to stay in their homes there are still plenty of activities that are allowed.”

Read the Safer at Home Executive Order: 
https://www.hernandosun.com/saferathome_order

 

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