OTTUMWA — The Wapello County Sheriff’s department has made some temporary changes in an effort to reduce some risks associated with the COVID-19 virus.
Sheriff Don Phillips said the measures are directed toward the corrections and patrol divisions, concealed handgun licensing and limited access to the law center. They will be in effect until further notice.
The corrections division will have a heightened intake screening process, monitor for fevers and symptoms associated with the virus and undergo further sanitation efforts.
Deputies will still patrol the county and are available for service at all times. Phillips said they are taking additional precautions such as taking reports by phone and maintaining a distance of 6 feet when talking to the public.
As for the concealed handgun licensing forms, Phillips encourages residents to access them at http://wapellocounty.org/weapons-permits/. Residents can print off the forms whether it is a new application for permit to carry, a renewal or a permit to acquire at their residence. These forms must be included with a colored copy of identification (state I.D. or driver’s license), copy of training and a check or money order. The applications can also be accessed from the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s website https://dps.iowa.gov. The forms may be mailed to the sheriff’s office.
Access to the law center is also limited. Residents are encouraged to call the sheriff’s office at 641-684-4350 or the Ottumwa Police Department at 641-683-0661 before stopping in. The doors to the administrative portion of the building will be locked, but Phillips said residents can call dispatch on the phone available at the front of the building. From there, residents will be transferred to employees they would like to talk to such as administration, jail or law enforcement workers.
The Wapello County Jail has suspended all jail visitation, except for attorney visits, until further notice.
“We’ll monitor that and change as needed, but we’re encouraging the family and folks to communicate by phone with loved ones in jail,” Phillips said.
“We continue to work with state and local officials regarding this issue,” Phillips added. “We will continue to monitor the situation and the temporary changes may be modified. The sheriff’s office encourages the community to remain calm and to follow the advice of official sources such as Wapello County Board of Supervisors, City of Ottumwa, Wapello County Emergency Management, Wapello County Public Health, Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control on what preventative measures you can take.”