Sheriff Jim Neil announces changes to prevent spread of COVID-19

Sheriff Jim Neil announces changes to prevent spread of COVID-19

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil stated Monday that he is implementing a limited reporting procedure and a non-emergency crime reporting procedure until further notice.

It will limit personal contact and possible exposure to the citizens and deputies due to the spread of COVID-19, said Sheriff Neil.

Sheriff Neil says deputies will have limited access to certain calls for service and prioritizing responses to those reported crimes. Priority will be given to crimes in progress, crimes of violence, crimes requiring the collection of evidence and structure fires.

Deputies will only respond to car accidents when a person is injured, a car blocking the way requiring a tow, or any other unusual circumstances. Drivers involved in minor accidents should exchange information or respond to the nearest sheriff law enforcement district to file a report. They have 72 hours to report the incidents. said Sheriff Neil.

Sheriff Neil says they have also taken precautionary measures at the Hamilton County Jail.

  • All contact visitation will be canceled for inmates starting 4 p.m. Friday at the Hamilton County Justice Center, the county’s Reading Road Facility and its Woodburn Facility, according to Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil.
  • The order to cancel all contact visitation includes non-court ordered treatment, attorney visits, and clergy, the sheriff says.
  • Attorney visits will have to by telephone through the inmate visitation process, Sheriff Neil states.
  • “Process only” procedure will be reinstated which includes non-violent felony offenders.
  • All services and programs have been suspended including fingerprint services, background security checks and carry conceal gun permits.
  • Any arrest/ commit that is exhibiting symptoms will be masked immediately and will be monitored by the medical health care provider.
  • Any general population inmates who develop symptoms will be treated by the medical team and quarantined to his or her cell.

Sheriff Neil says he is taking proactive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the inmate population, the general public as well as the employees of Hamilton County.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones also says he is canceling all inmate visitation “until further notice.”

Jones notes that while the jail uses a video visitation system, visitation fills the jail’s lobby with large groups of family members. He adds inmates will be given additional free calling privileges until visitation is reinstated.

The moves, according to both Jones and Neil, come in response to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s directives, announced Tuesday, to prevent the spread of coronavirus, both within the inmate population and in the general public.

Jones also says he is increasing staffing in the county’s emergency communications center in response to increased calls for service in Oxford after Miami University canceled in-person classes, resulting in uptown Oxford being busy overnight.

“We have to adjust for that,” Jones said.

ECC staff reportedly met with Oxford police and developed a plan to handle the anticipated increase in calls.

Jones also announced he is activating the back-up center with staffing to provide 24-hour monitoring of the "COVID-19 situation. The center, Jones says, will be prepared to assist other dispatch centers in the county should they face staffing issues related to sick employees.

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