Dave McDaniel

Hardin County Sheriff Dave McDaniel (center) speaks to L-R: Eldora Police Chief Mike Ludwigs, Hardin County Chief Deputy J.D. Holmes and Hardin County IT Director Matt Jones prior to a meeting at the Hardin County Emergency Operations Center. McDaniel said due to the requirements of law enforcement, his department has not made many changes in response to COVID-19.

While the public is asked to practice social distancing due to the COVID-19 virus, law enforcement is something that can't be operated from the comforts of home.

Hardin County Sheriff Dave McDaniel said for the most part, its business as usual for his staff at the HCSO.

The nature of the job means McDaniel and his staff will be up close and personal with citizens despite ongoing concerns due to the virus.

"From a patrol standpoint, it's a big challenge because we are going to get called to residences for domestic situations, accident calls, and more," McDaniel said. "That's the nature of our job. We don't have the luxury of not responding to the public's needs. We will do social distancing in our office the best we can, but at times, that won't be an option for us."

The HCSO staff includes 65 people, including 11 uniformed full-time officers. The coronavirus has not changed anything in regards to how McDaniel plans officer shifts, but there have been minor differences regarding inmate visitor contact.

At the Hardin County Jail, staff is screening all of the inmates as they enter the facility. That includes temperature checks and a series of health and lifestyle-related questions. Information includes recent travel history and whether they currently feel ill.

McDaniel said attorney-inmate interaction was already non-contact before COVID-19 was a reality.

"We've temporarily suspended contact visits with Bible studies. Attorneys coming to speak with clients, that's all done through telephone communication. It's still face-to-face but there's a glass barrier," McDaniel said.

The HC Sheriff said sanitation wipes on both sides of glass, and the detained population is encouraged to wipe down the phone before usage.

Wednesday, the Hardin County Supervisors agreed to close all county office buildings to the public. That means the HCSO will have to work with family members of detainees regarding phone calls and/or Skype technology.

The HCSO is also voluntarily conducting temperature checks of its staff in order to take extra precautions. Everything from the office to the jail is being sanitized on a constant basis.

When officers are on patrol, they have not been required to wear gloves, but McDaniel said they would depending on the type of call they are responding to.

Some officers may also ask some people to step outside when they respond to calls, and avoid going inside their homes if possible. But that isn't always an option depending on the situation according to McDaniel.

"Our world is 24-7, 365. We can't not enforce laws or not incarcerate," McDaniel said.

McDaniel said the HCSO's main concern regarding COVID-19 is how the public has responded in the past 10 days. Many citizens are panic-buying paper products such as toilet paper and leaving store shelves empty for others. He said that behavior has to end.

"The last thing we need is panic or chaos. I hope it dies down in the near future, because people need to be considerate of each other. Hoarding 50 rolls of toilet paper...why? One single household doesn't need 25 bottles of sanitizer either," McDaniel said.

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