Last Updated on March 17, 2020 7:27 pm
WataugaOnline.com reached out to Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman, via email, to find out how the coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting his office.
Specifically, he was asked: How is COVID-19 impacting your office? What things are you having to put into effect for your Deputies to be safe? What about for those in jail?
“I am very proud of how we (Command Staff, Supervisors, and all staff) began well before the COVID-19 dialogue began and “orders” started to unfold, particularly from our State and Federal levels.”, he began by stating.
“There are different suggestions, directives, and orders where we have easily meshed into a matrix where most issues (ranging from toilet tissue, to vehicle decontamination, and innate isolation) have been well thought out and are being addressed and implemented.”
Sheriff Hagaman went on to say, “Of most pride is these suggestions, thoughts, brainstorming, and protocols have made their way to our law enforcement partners as “the way to address COVID-19 issues;” and are now a sought out gold standard for other facilities throughout N.C.”
“Note too that these ideas (accepted and rejected) have all been in concert and in person with many layers of health, legal, fiscal, educational, media, transportation, governmental administrations, best practices, fairness, and, yes, some good ol’ common sense.”
Sheriff Hagaman also noted how everyone is on the same page and also stating, “this wake up call” will continue to offer a huge learning opportunity for current and future events.”
“We have learned much thus far and will continue to learn from this. All county players have been more than willing to work LONG hours in an attempt to provide a systematic, fair, safe, and a well thought out response for those in need. BUT, it takes a village of caring neighbors to be of assistance to help each other and to remain civil and very understanding for this to work – together, we will come out on top.”, he also said in his response.
Among the changes Sheriff Hagaman has implemented:
Whenever possible when an officer has to take action a citation is the preferred method. Since that is not possible in all situations when an arrest has to be made the officer should take note of the general health of the arrestee and upon presentation to the Watauga County Jail, notify a detention officer immediately of any concerns.
Jail visitation is not face to face, all Chaplin services and Attorney visits are now suspended, with limitations.
A robust decon has been done and are not accepting inmate transfers from other counties.
Individuals serving weekend sentences are suspended until further notice
There is also a protocol in place should an inmate become ill from any communicable disease.
24 hour holds are suspended until further notice.