COVID-19 Affects Incidents of Criminal Activity, Police Procedures

BY DAVID FISHER
david@dresdenenterprise.com
WEAKLEY COUNTY (April 20) — It’s not often that a week goes by without there being any arrests made in Weakley County. However, according to Weakley County Sheriff Mike Wilson, that is exactly what happened this past week.
When asked about the reduction of criminal behavior, Sheriff Wilson stated the stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Bill Lee, in response to the coronavirus, could be a major factor.
“I think less crime is being committed because people are staying at home,” Sheriff Wilson said.
Although Weakley County got a reprieve from criminal acts resulting in arrests over a seven-day period, there have been several arrests since the stay-at-home order was issued.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sheriff Wilson said, “I’m trying to make sure our officers, dispatchers, jailers and inmate population remain safe. He stated, so far, nobody at the Weakley County Sheriff’s Office has contracted the coronavirus.
“The inmate population has been here and haven’t been exposed to anything,” he said. “Whenever our correctional officers come to work, there is a protocol we follow to screen for the virus.” He stated this also applies to the prisoners. Particular attention is paid to those inmates arrested and jailed since the stay-at-home order was initiated.
To further guard against bringing the virus into the jail, all visitation has been suspended until further notice. However, inmates may talk to their loved ones on the phone.
Additionally, church services have been suspended.
The sheriff noted only those criminal cases that are required to be brought before a judge are being heard in court. All civil cases are postponed.
While there has been an increase in domestic violence incidents reported across the state and nation, fortunately, Weakley County has not seen an uptick in cases.
With the stay-at-home order in place, victims of domestic violence now are required to stay in a confined place with their abusers. They do not have a means of escape and feel as if there is no help for them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner.
In some areas, acts of domestic violence have nearly doubled.
Those suffering abuse may contact West Tennessee Legal Services, which is still available to help all those in need of their services.
Catherine Clayton, Executive Director of West Tennessee Legal Services, says, “We can help victims with obtaining orders of protection, divorces, custody issues, criminal court accompaniment, and other matters that relate to domestic abuse.
WTLS is a non-profit organization that provides assistance in civil cases to individuals, families and communities. The branch office in Huntingdon serves Benton, Carroll, Henry, and Weakley counties. For more information, call 800-372-8346 (phone); fax 731-986-8977; or send e-mails to: wtls@wtls.org
Sheriff Wilson said nobody has any idea when the coronavirus bans will be lifted. “We’re just waiting to see how everything plays out.”

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