Aug. 27—McAlester police are enacting all the COVID-19 protocols they previously used at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
"We haven't relaxed anything," said McAlester Police Chief Kevin Hearod.
Why are all the protocols back in place?
"We're doing it because of the Delta variant," Hearod said.
"It's for the safety of the officer and the public," he said.
Front door and side entrances to the McAlester Police Department and municipal courtroom in the former Carl Albert Federal Building are all locked,Hearod said. It can still be accessed by the public, but only through the handicapped entrance on the north side of building, Hearod said. The building's north side is in back of the structure.
Since it's a handicapped entrance, it has a button that can be pushed instead of having to grasp a door handle to enter the building.
Inside the building, police and other city employees are continuing with protocols designed to help stop the spread of COVID-19
"Employees are wearing masks," Hearod said. "We are spraying disinfectant on stuff two or three times a day."
COVID-19 protocols are back in place regarding calls made to the police department, for both the 911 emergency number and the regular police line at 423-1212.
"When somebody calls 911 or 423-1212, they are asked 'Do you have a fever, tested positive or have symptoms of COVID-19?" Hearod said. If no one needs immediate assistance, a police report can be taken over the phone, he said.
What if assistance is needed from a police officer and there is someone who has a fever, symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19? Hearod said an officer would go to the scene, but would first take precautions.
"He would put on his PPE," Hearod said of an officer's personal protective equipment.
For normal everyday interaction with the public, police might use the disposable face masks or cloth masks meant for temporary use. If they must be around someone with COVID-19 or with a fever or symptoms related to the equipment, they have equipment such as the more effective N95 respirator masks, the police chief said.
Meanwhile Hearod said the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office is still declining to take most of those arrested for misdemeanor offenses into the Pittsburg County Jail, due to positive COVID-19 tests among county jail inmates.
Those arrested for felony prisoners are still being booked into the county jail, as well as those for certain misdemeanor offenses, such as domestic assault and battery, driving under the influence and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer. What happens to those arrested for other misdemeanor offenses who are not being booked into the county jail due to COVID-19 issues?
"We end up writing a citation with a court date," Hearod said. Some cases could be sent to the district attorney's for review before an arrest is made, said Hearod.
Regardless of the COVID protocols, "Someone who is a danger or a threat is taken to jail," said Hearod.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.