IMPORTANT INFO FOR PANOLA COUNTY FROM SHERIFF LAKE
Sheriff Kevin Lake
As stated by the County Judge and Commissioner's Court of Panola County earlier this week, the courthouse remains open, and the decision whether or not each county office within the courthouse remains open will be left to the respected department heads to decide. Obviously, the Sheriffs Office does NOT have that privilege or option. We are 24/7, 365 regardless of the current situation. However, in addition to our duty to provide safety to our citizens, we also have to make decis ions in regards to the safety and well-being of our staff. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect nearly every area of life, law enforcement agencies around the country are changing the ways they respond to service calls.
Law enforcement personnel come into contact with countless people in their communities on any given day. Now that this highly contagious disease is spreading across the U.S., our jobs carry a new risk -- both for officers themselves and for the communities we serve. Below are some policies temporarily implemented at the Sheriff's Office in an attempt to safeguard the public as well as our staff.
Effective immediately, officers will take reports for certain non-emergency calls over the phone, such as those that don't require an on the scene investigation or the collection of evidence. We feel that because our officers interact with many people throughout the day, limiting as much exposure as possible will aid in contributing to our social distancing responsibility to the public and will limit the potential spread of the virus to both our officers and to you, the public.
Our officers are continuing normal patrols throughout the county and will still respond to in-p rogress crimes or emergencies where there is an immediate threat to life, health or property. If you need us to come to you, we will still do that just as we have for almost 175 years. If we do respond to your call in person, you could be asked to step outside to speak to officer/s in order to limit indoor contact. Officers who have to make in-person visits will keep a "safe distance" and refrain from shaking hands. No offense, just being cautious!
Public access to our building is also very limited during this crises. Our lobby remains open, and anyone entering the lobby should use the intercom to speak to an officer or dispatcher. We are taking extra measures to clean and sanitize our facilities throughoutthe day.
Our detention center is also working under very strict orders, both from state level and from in-house changes to safeguard our staff and the inmate population. We have a temporary NO VISITOR policy in place. This means no inmate visitation and no community volunteer-led church services. We are also current ly not allowing the intake of property or personal hygiene items to housed inmates from the public. We already provide the personal hygiene items needed. Every person who does currently enter the facility will be screened and medically cleared prior to entering. This includes officers, attorneys, medical staff and inmates. Our staff members are working tirelessly to clean, sanitize and protect the wellbeing of everyone at the detention center.
Thank you for your patience and for understanding these temporary officer contact policies as we do our best to limit exposure to this very contagious illness. Join us in praying for this crises to soon be over and may God bless you and your family.
Sheriff Kevin Lake