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Pierce County Sheriff’s Office: Criminals ‘not getting a pass’ during coronavirus outbreak

A Pierce County Sheriff's Dept. deputy stands between two vehicles near Graham-Kapowsin High School. (AP)

Law enforcement agencies are not immune to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office altering how it prioritizes the booking of crimes.

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In an effort to limit large groups of offenders confined to small spaces together, the department is not accepting bookings for misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and non-mandatory arrest crimes.

That’s a list of offenses that includes third degree theft, unlawful discharging of a firearm, criminal trespass, malicious mischief, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and more. Typically, a gross misdemeanor can come with up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. The sentence for “simple” misdemeanors is up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

That being so, this doesn’t mean that criminals are getting off scot-free.

“You’re not getting a hall pass — you’re still going to be held accountable for your behavior if you commit crimes,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Office representative Ed Troyer told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

Instead, the Sheriff’s Office is citing those smaller offenses into court for a later date. More serious crimes like felonies are also still getting booked.

“Those people are not getting a pass — they’re going straight to jail,” said Troyer.

For those individuals, they’re being subject to a thorough medical screening process before entering custody to ensure that they’re not spreading coronavirus within the prison population.

“We have a nurse that’s there checking everybody before they go in to see if they have any symptoms of the virus,” Troyer described. “And then we’re also checking people when we move them from housing unit to housing unit to make sure that they may not have come in with the virus.”

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As for advice for the average person, Troyer urges people to keep level heads while the region continues to fight this outbreak.

“Look out for yourself. Look out your family. Follow the guidelines — if everybody does it, the sooner we’re going to get out of this.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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