JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Law enforcement agencies across Colorado are now operating under new guidelines from Gov. Jared Polis due to the spread of coronavirus. The guidance comes after two deputies in El Paso County tested positive for COVID-19, and it includes a push to issue more summonses in lieu of arrests.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader says a lot of it will be “common sense” steps.
“This is a scary time in our history to not know what where this enemy is, so to speak, and so we are having to take precautions that we haven’t had to take ever,” Shrader said.
Regardless of the agency, Coloradans may see more protective gear being used on routine stops and broadly there will be a push to limit interaction.
“Interacting with people is a large part of that and sometimes very up close, so we are doing things differently,” he said.
To aid agencies, the governor’s guidance includes moving to issuing more summonses and making fewer arrests.
Shrader says on a normal day they would see about 70 people booked into their jail. On Tuesday, he says that number was 19.
“We are not attempting to arrest people and physically take them to the jail to the (largest) extent possible. Obviously if someone is harming someone they will go to jail,” he said.
Not only will the new process protect the men and women on the street and those they serve but the idea is to prevent COVID-19’s spread inside detention facilities.
“A county jail is kind of like, a bad analogy, but a cruise ship on land that doesn’t have a great view and it doesn’t have a buffet,” he said.
While the sheriff says they are having to completely change their mindset, they are necessary steps.
“If we have people who aren’t well that are providing the service, ultimately that’s not good for the people who really need help when they need it.”
The governor also issued guidelines on detention facilities that include increased cleaning and limiting groups to 10, as well as isolating inmates exhibiting symptoms away from others.
Read the complete statement from the governor’s office below and view the state’s complete guidance document:
Today Gov. Polis released guidance to local governments and law enforcement agencies on limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m grateful to all of our law enforcement agencies who are working to keep Colorado safe during this difficult time. Their service to our communities is critical in addressing the spread of this virus,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We have worked closely with local law enforcement to develop this guidance to protect our first responders and those in custody. We will continue working with counties, municipalities, all law enforcement agencies, and all detention centers as the situation develops to safely reduce our incarcerated population and limit the spread of COVID-19.”
The guidance is meant to improve safety for all law enforcement officers and the Coloradans they interact with as well as detention center staff and individuals held in custody.
Guidance for law enforcement includes increased use of warnings or summons in lieu of arrest when public safety is not at risk; taking necessary precautions when interacting with members of the public who appear visibly ill; having jurisdictions implement pretrial diversion and release methods to lower the number of individuals held in custody at any given time; and more.
Guidance for all detention centers includes, whenever possible, practicing social distancing for individuals held in custody and staff; temporarily suspending all visitation; ensuring that no more than 10 people are gathered at the same time in any confined space; developing a protocol to regularly sanitize facilities; screening individuals coming in or being released from detention centers for any COVID-19 symptoms; screening all staff for COVID-19 symptoms; and more.
The County Sheriffs of Colorado also issued guidance in conjunction with the Governor’s guidance. To the extent that the County Sheriffs of Colorado’s Guidance for Jails and Other Police Contacts is more stringent than the Governor’s guidance, the County Sheriffs’ guidance should be followed.