Texoma counties crack down on citations to lower arrests amid pandemic

Local News

WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — A couple of Texoma counties are working through how to handle cases due to COVID-19.

The spread of COVID-19 is impacting just about all areas of life, including how law enforcement handles some cases that would typically end with someone in jail.

“If we can handle it by a warrant and put it off for a couple of weeks, just kind of case by case circumstances,”Montague County Sheriff Marshall Thomas said. “A violent crime, certain crimes are going to be handled right then. Assault family violence, you’ve got to handle that at that time. Of course, robberies, certain burglaries.”

Wichita County is doing something similar.

“The “A” and “B” misdemeanor cases that are non-violent, if possible, not bringing them to jail.” Wichita County Sheriff David Duke said. “Basically, if they get somebody with a theft or a piece of property that’s not a felony, stolen property, they siege the property obviously, and then go ahead and do a warrant for individuals arrest, to be arrested later.”

Duke said they have a plan in place every time they do have to arrest someone to make sure they do not have the virus.

“Somebody comes to the Wichita County jail, on any charge, for the first two weeks we keep them isolated away from the jail population of inmates,” Duke said. “Our inmate medical provider staff, they take care checking their temperature once they come in when we initially accept them as well as throughout the next two weeks.”

Thomas said they are doing this because law enforcement officers getting the virus is becoming a big problem nationwide.

“We get notices every day about officers deaths, officers that are recovering from COVID-19,” Thomas said. “I think New York City it was 20 officers but nationwide I think it was 41 officers last I checked, it’s possibly gone up. Officers are normally in pretty good shape unless they have medical conditions that are underlying.”

The hope is by taking these measures they can keep the inmates and the staff as safe as possible.

Currently, Montague County has 38 inmates in jail whereas Wichita County has about 400 inmates in jail.

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