A lot of the operating procedures have changed for the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office to deal with the coronavirus and the state’s reopening guidelines. What what does it all mean and what does it actually look like for judges and their staff members?
The Natchitoches Parish Journal wanted to provide readers with a window into the world of the Sheriff’s office and how operations have adapted. The Courthouse as a whole is requiring citizens to wear masks upon entering the building. Temperatures are also being checked at the main entrance.
Overall Sheriff Victor Jones said it’s just another day in the Sheriff’s office.
“Part of the job is dealing with the public and part of it is learning to be flexible,” he said. “We’ve never seen this in our lifetime, but we’re used to taking risks on a daily basis.”
However, the Sheriff’s Office has gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of the citizens of Natchitoches Parish and its own deputies on patrol. Everyone in the department was required to take mandatory online training. Sneeze guards were installed at every desk where the public comes to interact with the Sheriff’s office.
One thing that has changed is the cancellation of the Sheriff’s sale, which the Sheriff is looking forward to holding again, hopefully by the end of July.
As for the guys on the road, deputies are following instructions from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. The deputies know how to properly use their masks while out on patrol, they’re constantly washing their hands and cleaning their patrol units. The 911 Call Center had even added information into the response system so deputies are informed as far as possible addresses where residents with confirmed Covid cases are living.
With school being cancelled early, school resource officers were assigned to patrol. Deputies have also taken the place of inmates for some things, like assisting with the Council on Aging commodity distribution and school feeding sites. Overall, the changes have added more personnel to the road, so residents may have noticed more patrols in their neighborhoods.
“Luckily we’ve had no positive cases in our department or at the Detention Center,” said Jones.
The curfew put in place by the parish for April 8 to May 13 was successful, according to Jones as the crime rate dropped tremendously during this time period. And as far as the law enforcement sales tax that supports the Sheriff’s office and the detention center, Jones said they haven’t really seen a big change. March of this year is only down by $4,000 compared to March of last year and April is only down $3,000 versus the same time last year.
Perhaps the silver lining here is that things could have turned out so much worse.
As the state gets ready to enter Phase 2, Jones asks the residents of Natchitoches Parish to shop locally because a lot of businesses have taken a hit during the pandemic. He also asks that residents adhere to guidelines for masks, social distancing and washing hands.
“I’m thankful to all the citizens who are doing their part as we work toward reopening,” said Jones.