Bay County Sheriff makes COVID-19 safety changes

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford ordered major changes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Patrol deputies received additional gloves and N95 masks, officials wrote in a news release. Hand sanitizer and hand wipes have also been distributed. Deputies have also received training on COVID-19 and business travel and training schools such as conferences are restricted.

“Telecommunicators have been given questions specific to the symptoms of COVID-19 to ask anyone who calls to get help for an ill person. Information gathered will help responding deputies to understand more clearly the situation they are about to enter and better help the ill person,” officials wrote.

Deputies will also be limiting their in-person interactions with the public.

“Not all complaint calls will have an incident report filled out by telephone. Just misdemeanor reports with the exception of crimes in progress, issues of public safety, and domestic violence,” officials wrote. “Examples of misdemeanor reports would be complaints of misdemeanor property crimes, identity theft, lost or stolen property, vehicle burglary, harassing phone calls, and criminal mischief.”

“Certain felony reports will also be handled by a phone call, but only felonies that do not have a suspect present, require crime scene work, evidence collection, or immediate interviews,” they added. “Examples of this type of felony would be credit card fraud, grand theft with no immediate follow-up required, identification theft, and telephone or other fraud. All violent felonies will have a deputy immediately dispatched to the scene.”

All citizens complaining of any crime who specifically request a deputy respond in person will have one sent to them, officials wrote.

After the report is taken by phone, the case will be followed up by an investigator or an assigned zone deputy.

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