The Greene County Sheriff’s Office has been protecting itself for nearly a month since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state. Sheriff Rob McMillen says that law enforcement has changed procedures about processing and arresting criminals in the county. “Basically, for the last 30 days, we’ve implemented some procedures here to limit exposure to possible COVID-19 cases. What we have done, for warrants on file here, unless they are for serious offenses, we’re not taking new inmates in. We are giving them court dates and releasing them. If the citations are for a serious offense like aggravated assault or battery, residential burglary, or something like that – we are taking those type of cases into the jail. Normal misdemeanor theft charges or disorderly conduct or those type of crimes, we are not taking those types into custody here. We are just processing them through, giving them a court date, and sending them on their way.”
McMillen says that with current arrests that they will process the arrest outside of the Greene County Jail to limit exposure and possible spread of COVID-19. McMillen says that they are also not taking in any criminals on extradition from other counties currently, but asking those outside agencies who make the arrest to issue a court date and release the prisoner.
McMillen says the jail currently has 10 prisoners in lodging. He says that the jail has also stopped prisoner visitations. He says that inmates are allowed a weekly 15-minute phone call. They are allowed to make more calls if they can afford to purchase them.
McMillen says that the pandemic has allowed for the implementation of the new Greene County Courthouse security to be eased into by the public and by his staff. “[With less time at the jail,] it’s allowed me time to give staff more training at the courthouse. It’s allowed me to go over various things since we’re not so busy. The courthouse went into lock down on Monday. The public can’t even come into the building unless they have a scheduled appointment. The security system is going good. We’ve got everything in place, and everything went according to plan on how it was going to be implemented. Once this thing dies down, and we get back into normal activities where we have court more often; there will be more activity for the security deputies. Right now, it’s kind of boring. They come in in the morning and open the courthouse up. They get everything ready to go; and they basically set there for 8 hours and deal with employees coming and going since we’re not even allowing the public to even come in the building since we had that positive test here in Greene County.”
McMillen says that Greene County’s emergency response team had some tough times getting PPE supplies from IEMA in the beginning of the pandemic. “It was pretty frustrating early on. We couldn’t even by the stuff for awhile. When this thing hit, everybody grabbed everything that was available on the shelves and so once we tried to get stuff, we couldn’t it. When tried to get emergency supplies of stuff, we couldn’t get it. I kept on hearing that once we got a positive case in Greene County that we’d have some priority. I’m not sure if it was luck of the timing or what, but as soon as that positive test came out last Thursday – this Monday we were getting our supplies. I don’t know if that was a coincidence. Regardless, we got the stuff and now we’re prepared for interactions with the public – like if we are out, the deputies all have the gear and their masks. The staff here at the jail all has that stuff if we are interacting with inmates coming in off the street. We’re prepared for it.”
He says the cooperation of the public, local assisted living and long-term care facilities, and businesses have been good throughout the county. He says that local emergency management and health officials are continuing to monitor for new cases in the county week by week similar to other counties in West Central Illinois.