MUSCATINE, Iowa—As some of Muscatine County’s first responders, the members of the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Department continue to work to keep the county safe, even during the COVID-19 outbreak. “We’re not on a holiday from enforcing the law,” stated Muscatine County Sheriff C. J. Ryan. “We will have limited access to some of our functions (we recently closed our public reception counter), but we are still on duty 24 hours a day, every day, and responding to calls for service.”
To keep deputies safe, Ryan shared that they have undergone training on best practices to prevent spreading COVID-19. They also receive regular updates on the outbreak and how it affects their day to day duties. “Our deputies have been made aware of best practices to stay safe while interacting with the public,” Ryan explained, adding, “We certainly are involved in many meetings daily as this situation progresses.”
Currently, Ryan considers temporarily suspending outreach activities as the largest change the Department made to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. “We do not want to have contact with at-risk groups (like the elderly) and place them at risk of the virus spread through their contact with us,” elaborated Ryan, who finds this both the most important and most difficult change the Department has instituted. “That is a really foreign concept for us, because community contact and helping community groups is a big part of who we are.”
Along with pausing their community outreach programs, the Department has taken steps to prevent people in the Muscatine County Jail from getting COVID-19. These include screening all new inmates for symptoms of the virus.
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to run its course, Ryan assures everyone that the Department will continue keeping the county safe. “People can remain confident in the level of our service–everyone is still on duty.”