Sheriff Ashley announces new COVID-19 protocols for OCSO

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office announced on Wednesday, March 18, a number of new measures to attempt to limit potential public and staff exposure.

According to the OCSO, these protocols will remain in effect until further notice.

(1) Deputies are patrolling Okaloosa beaches to remind residents and tourists alike to stick to the Governor’s emergency order on social distancing and avoiding more than ten people in a group. The OCSO is seeking voluntary compliance, however Sheriff Larry Ashley says if voluntary compliance is not obtained, beaches will be closed.

(2) Call-in crime reporting: Beginning Thursday, March 19th at 8 a.m., deputies will begin call-in crime reporting for most low-priority, non-violent/and or misdemeanor crimes that have already occurred – versus in person responses. The normal dispatch lines will be used and calls of that nature forwarded to deputies – or your calls returned by deputies – as soon as possible.

(3) Limiting access: The OCSO is limiting access to headquarter and substation lobbies and asking the public to attempt to do business by phone or email whenever possible. Most buildings have an outdoor phone that can be used for routine business as needed.

(4) Fingerprinting: The OCSO is suspending all elective fingerprinting, with the exception of statutorily mandated fingerprinting such as arrestees and sexual offender registrations.

According to the announcement, OCSO deputies have implemented multiple precautionary practices when it comes to their interacting with the public, ranging from social distancing to wearing masks and gloves to limit exposure.

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