Law officials reach out to reassure residents
City and county law enforcement officials are reaching out to the public.
Florence County Sheriff William Barnes stated the following:
“The Florence County Sheriff’s Office will continue to serve and protect the people of Florence County while mitigating the potential exposure and transmission of coronavirus. The purpose of this letter is to inform the public and our law enforcement partners of the common sense policing approach which we will observe as we monitor the public health crisis.
“Our citizens should continue to call 911 for emergencies. To reduce the spread and exposure to our deputies, when appropriate, the deputy may ask you to simply step outside your home while providing information. In addition, we may attempt to respond to a non-emergency calls by telephone when possible. This will not apply to any emergency calls where immediate contact may be necessary.
“To our local law enforcement partners, we request that you exercise judgment and discretion when considering the arrest of suspects. Unless a custodial arrest cannot be avoided, for the protection of detention center staff and inmates, we suggest and encourage the use of citations for most non-violent offenses.
“Inmates currently booked into our detention center are screened by our medical staff for symptoms of Covid-19 and the facility is following a disinfectant regime for inmates and staff which includes, among other things, routine hand sanitizing. All inmate visitation is by way of video teleconference with the exception of attorneys and their clients.
“We will continue to stay in touch with our citizens as well as our state and federal partners as we work through this situation and will adjust our actions as necessary to protect our citizens and our staff. We appreciate your cooperation and support as we move forward to return to normalcy soon.”
Barnes and his department also issued a press release March 19 assuring residents that no curfew is being enforced at this moment.
Chief Allen Heidler and the Florence Police Department issued the following statement:
“The Florence Police Department will continue to provide high quality services to our citizens and business, while minimizing the risk of exposure and transmission of the virus, through the COVID-19 crisis.
“In this effort, we will be following the CDC guidelines of maintaining a distant of six feet, whenever possible, when interacting with the public. Officers may ask to meet outside of your residence, business or vehicle for non-emergency situations.
“Non-emergency reports may be taken over the phone, however, our citizens should continue to use 911 for emergency calls for service.
“We will monitor this situation, adjust our practices and provide informational updates when applicable to ensure the safety of our citizens, as well as our employees. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation during these challenging times.”