PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced several changes to its policy in response to the new coronavirus, including handling many reports over the phone.
The changes are to protect deputies, detectives and support staff, as well as citizens, from possible exposure and spreading of the COVID-19, Sheriff Joe Nole said in a Facebook post Monday.
Calls to JeffCom 9-1-1 that are considered low priority will be vetted by a call receiver, and callers will be asked if the report can be made to a deputy by phone.
Low-priority incidents are defined as not in progress with no suspect information, Nole said.
Urgent and emergency deputy responses will still occur for in-progress or felony crimes with a known suspect, he said.
When department personnel respond to a residence or workplace, deputies may call the reporting person to meet officers outside to facilitate social distancing of at least 6 feet and will allow deputies to safely assess and take appropriate action, Nole said.
Non-injury, non-blocking motor vehicle collisions may be handled by telephone to assist with exchanging information and to provide instructions on self-reporting using the State Patrol Online Motor Vehicle Collision Reporting (OMVCR) format, Nole said.
OMVCR may be accessed at fortress.wa.gov/wsp/wrecr/OMVCR/.
Deputies will only respond to a civil request if it’s pursuant to a court order, Nole said.
Non-criminal fingerprinting services will be suspended until April 10, when it will be re-evaluated. That means the sheriff’s office will not accept original concealed carry pistol license applications or provide other fingerprinting services, Nole said.
The drug take-back program also has been suspended until further notice.
The sheriff’s offices remain open, but Nole has requested anyone who is sick or has flu-like symptoms — or those who have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19 — not enter the offices.
Most business can be conducted by calling the main office at 360-385-3831 or the civil office at 360-385-9390.