Calif. PDs to limit responses to essential calls amid coronavirus outbreak

"If we lose employees to this virus, it will really limit what we can do," said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood in a press conference Thursday


The Daily Independent, Ridgecrest, Calif.

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — Kern County Sheriff's Office announced that it would be limiting responses to emergency and life-threatening calls on Thursday as a response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the Kern County Sheriff's Office, working in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, is implementing new procedures in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic," KCSO said in a news release. "The purpose is to ensure the health and safety of our community as public safety is our number one priority. KCSO and other law enforcement agencies have procedures in place to provide mutual aid on a local and state level should a law enforcement agency have staffing issues due to illness."

Ridgecrest Police Department also announced similar precautions Thursday afternoon.

"The Ridgecrest Police Department, working in conjunction with Ridgecrest Regional Hospital and other Kern County law enforcement agencies, is implementing new procedures in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic," Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said in the news release. "The purpose is to ensure the health and safety of our community as public safety is our number one priority. RPD and other law enforcement agencies have procedures in place to provide mutual aid on a local and state level should a law enforcement agency have staffing issues due to illness."

For non emergencies, please contact the Ridgecrest Police Department Communications Center at 760-499-5100.

The sheriff's office requested that citizens calling for emergency service should alert deputies when they call "if they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 so we can have an appropriate response."

Non-threatening reports will handled over the phone and will be responded to an area as needed to address any other portions of the investigation. However, deputies will limit contact with the public "for the safety and protection of community members and peace officers."

KCSO and RPD also noted it will cancel participation in all community events through at least the rest of March. All civilian ride-alongs have also been canceled.

"If we lose employees to this virus, it will really limit what we can do, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood in a press conference Thursday. "What I hope is that it has a minimum impact on our community."

Youngblood also noted that KCSO will still respond to calls and patrol the area, though it will not make in-person contact with the callers.

"If there is a prowler, we will still patrol the area and look for that prowler," he said.

KCSO also noted that Wednesday the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation decided to cancel all visitations at state prisons until further notice. Likewise, KCSO will do the same for county jails, as well as any classes inmates are eligible to attend.

Youngblood said that KCSO is working on a remote call procedure to allow family members to contact inmates from home.

"We want to work together to get through this," Youngblood said.

Attorney visits will continue; however all attorneys should please refrain from visiting the facilities if they are experiencing any signs or symptoms of being ill. KCSO stated.

"There are no cases of COVID-19 being investigated in our detention facilities," KCSO said. "These measures are to ensure the safety of all those in our custody and care."

KCSO reiterated that there are still no current cases of COVID-19 in Kern County.

"We're in this with our community and we're going to see it through together," Youngblood said Thursday.

©2020 The Daily Independent, Ridgecrest, Calif.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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