Local law enforcement taking precautions during coronavirus outbreak

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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NATCHEZ — Natchez and Adams County law enforcement officials are taking precautionary measures to limit staff and officers’ potential exposure to COVID-19, officials said.

The Natchez Police Department is limiting as much traffic through the police department as possible, said Walter Armstrong, Natchez chief of police.

The Adams County Sheriff’s office, likewise is limiting traffic through its offices and visits to inmates in the county jail to only phone calls, said Travis Patten, Adams County sheriff.

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“At the jail, visitation is restricted for the next couple of weeks to by phone visits only, no in-person visitation,” Patten said. “The lobby is open for people who want to come in and file complaints and things.”

Patten said all surfaces in the sheriff’s office are cleaned every hour.

“Every hour on the hour, we are having it cleaned, all surfaces,” Patten said.

On the streets, Armstrong said he is advising police officers to limit as much face-to-face contact as possible with the public while still doing their jobs.

“We are limiting as much access as we possibly can,” Armstrong said. “It is a difficult task for first responders.”

Armstrong said also police are being lenient in pursuing people who may have committed non-violent crimes or have not paid fines.

“With some misdemeanors, we are deferring some of that as long as it is not violent actions,” Armstrong said.

Patten said his deputies are wearing protective gloves when out in the field.

“With my deputies on the streets and going into houses, they are wearing gloves,” Patten said. “We don’t want our people getting sick from this virus.”

Patten said new measures are also being put in place at the Adams County Courthouse to limit entrance onely to the Market Street entrance where a metal detector is located to keep deputies from having to get close to people to check for weapons.

Armstrong said the public can help during this time by following guidelines set forth by U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Gov. Tate Reeves and Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell asking people not to congregate in large groups.

“If they could stay inside as much as they can and not congregate, that would help,” Armstrong said. “State and local politicians and the CDC are all pretty much saying the same thing, refrain from large gatherings sports outdoors or indoors, parties inside or outside, that would help us tremendously . . . if they will comply with what the CDC, the president, the governor and the mayor are saying.”