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Sheriff’s office still working around COVID-19

‘We’re a small organization, so we have to be careful’

Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle
Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle

After scaling back traffic enforcement to protect deputies and the public from the spread of COVID-19, Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle had to make a change in late May. 

“We had so many complaints on the road,” VanVickle said. “We let deputies go back to work with safeguards. Things were getting dangerous.”

Ogle County Jail operations are still different from normal with safeguards. 

On March 13, Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle closed the county jail to visitors. Visits were changed and done remotely. Intake policies have also been changed. Temperatures are being taken and questions are being asked. 

People being brought in for out-of-county warrants are being kept separate from Ogle inmates before they’re taken to other counties in an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19. 

“We’ve had some people tested with contact tracing,” VanVickle said. “All were negative. Early on, we canceled vacations and travel to limit our people’s exposure. We’re a small organization, so we have to be careful.”

VanVickle is also on the county’s emergency operations team. The emergency operations center was activated until Mid-May. There was talk this week about reopening it with cases high last week, but the EOC team ultimately decided against it. 

VanVickle and the EOC are working to provide county schools with personal protective equipment like masks for the fall as they plan to open with them required by the state. 

“We put in an additional PPE request at the end of last week,” VanVickle said. “We have a good supply.”

There is a state-wide mandate that masks must be worn in public places. Late in May, VanVickle said he won’t be enforcing any COVID-19 state guidelines in Ogle County, on the basis that there “isn’t a mechanism to charge or arrest somebody with.”

VanVickle plans to stay the course on that policy, despite a rise in cases last week. 

“That’s still an issue that hasn’t been resolved,” VanVickle said. “It’s not enforceable. Until we get direction otherwise from the state or the state’s attorney, we can’t enforce it. That’s the stance of most sheriffs throughout the state.”

The Sheriff’s Office doesn’t receive many calls about masks not being worn, VanVickle said. 

“We don’t get called for those types of incidents. Businesses don’t call for that. It’s when people refuse to wear one. It hasn’t been common. There’s been one in three weeks.”

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