Officials with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and Milledgeville Police Department have been in discussions on temporary response measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I realize we just had a formal announcement today from officials declaring a state of emergency here in Baldwin County, but the chief of police and I have been discussing these issues for probably the last three weeks when all of this started unfolding,” Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee told The Union-Recorder Sunday afternoon. “We’ve talked about everything from jail issues to criminal issues.”

Massee said he, along with Maj. Scott Deason and Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord, had been involved in the discussions.

“At the sheriff’s office, we are reviewing how we may respond to some calls from the public,” Massee said. “We may go to a priority response and there may be some cases where in the past we’ve always sent deputy sheriffs.”

 For example, the chief law enforcement officer of the county said someone might call to report the theft of tools from a shed at a residence.

“We may decide to take all of that kind of information over the telephone,” Masses said. “We may go to a desk sergeant sort of a situation on some issues. We’re planning to put some of our people handling these types of calls over the telephone so as to avoid deputies from having direct interaction with people as much as possible.”

Swicord confirmed that the police department will take similar precautionary steps for road patrol officers.

Late last week, an Atlanta police officer tested positive for COVID-19, the sheriff said.

“Chief Swicord and I have not had an issue with anyone that is ill or has tested positive,” Massee said.

He said if it came down to it and things got critical with an outbreak of the illness hitting one or both departments badly, they might have to put their sworn officers together to meet the needs of residents in the city, as well as the county.

“We’re certainly not at that point right now and we hope we never get to such a point,” Massee said.

Massee said he and Swicord had one mission.

“It’s purely a public safety issue,” Massee said. “We hope we don’t have any real problems, but if we do, we're going to do what we have to do to have a public safety response to our community.”

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