Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson issued the following statement this afternoon concerning his department's response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
The Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office has taken steps in conjunction with elected officials and department heads as we continue to respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
As citizens of Rockwall County, be assured that we are in close communication on a daily basis with all levels of government as we navigate the various challenges we all are facing, so that we may provide you with the highest levels of public safety.
We began our response in January of 2020 screening arrestees for COVID-19 being processed into the Rockwall County Detention Center. During this time, our administration began implementing various preventative measures that were previously developed in response to the Ebola virus in 2014 that developed in Dallas, TX.
In association with the Rockwall County Office of Emergency Management, we began preparing an updated response protocol based on information from the Centers for Disease Control, Texas Department of State Health Services, and our Rockwall County Health Authority regarding COVID-19. Simultaneously, we immediately began acquiring additional personal protective equipment and increasing supplies on hand.
As it relates to field operations, deputies have been issued protective masks, gloves, and disinfectants to keep in their vehicles. When calls-for-service are received at our 9-1-1 communications center, dispatchers are pre-screening callers through a series of questions as they relate to COVID-19. This is in an effort to limit the number of personnel responding to medical-related calls and reducing any unnecessary potential exposure.
Detention operations have suspended inmate visitation and programs at the direction of the Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and the Rockwall County Health Authority. In lieu of inmate visitation, we have worked with our inmate phone provider to provide free phone calls for inmates to friends and family. All institutional events and related activities that can be accomplished remotely with the use of technology are being implemented and explored in order to reduce potential exposures.
In addition, all personnel entering the detention center are being screened for signs or symptoms related to COVID-19. We have created various levels of protocols in the detention center based on specific risk factors should they develop. Our administration has been working directly with Rockwall County Judges and the District Attorney in order to explore the release of low-level offenders being held in-custody on misdemeanors, including offenders turning themselves in for the weekend and work-release sentences. We have also sent a memorandum to all municipalities within Rockwall County to consider alternative options to arrest that fall within their discretion and in which the law would otherwise allow for.
We will continue to evaluate information, respond as this pandemic evolves, and keep citizens updated as to what we are doing to keep you safe. The men and women of the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office stand ready to support the mission in preserving public safety during this critical time.