BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
With schools and many businesses closed during the COVID-19 emergency, Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies in Clarkston and Independence Township stay busy patrolling business and residential areas, grocery stores, and medical facilities.
“Criminal, traffic, and crash calls have been slightly lower, as most everyone is at home,” said Lt. Todd Hill, commander of the Independence Township substation. “The reduction of call volume has allowed deputies to be a larger presence in the community.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21, prohibiting “in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life,” will be in effect through April 13, but may be extended.
“There is an increase in ordinance calls relating to the governor’s order (sheltering in place), and they are investigated and handled accordingly,” Hill said.
No citations nor arrests have been made in those cases. If a violation is confirmed, they will write a report and forward it to the appropriate agency, he said.
“This is a fluid situation, and patience is needed. Putting an exact end date on this just is not possible, but I anticipate a fun summer.”
All Oakland County Sheriff’s substation lobbies are closed to the public, with citizens asked to use online services for copies of reports and crashes. Pistol sales records are to be mailed directly to the Sheriff’s Office Records Unit. Several non-essential services have been temporarily suspended. The emergency call box on the outside of the substation can still be used to speak directly to sheriff’s office dispatch.
County program changes include suspending the RESULTS program, which offers alcohol and drug testing. Those who need to use the service due to court mandates and court orders should call their probation or parole officer.
All fingerprinting has been suspended, but there will be no interruption in bond payments for Oakland County Jail inmates. Visitation kiosks at the jail are closed, but online visitation can still be arranged. Each inmate is given one free remote visit per week, with additional visits available for a fee. An account can be set up at ICSolutions.com to schedule a visit. Freedom of Information Act requests should be made through the Oakland County online FOIA portal.
No major changes have come to the township substation’s day-to-day operations, Hill said.
“General patrol protocols have been modified to reduce person-to-person contact and at least increase social distancing,” he said. “Deputies will take reports over the telephone or interview a person over the telephone, even if on scene. Citizens are provided statement forms via email and can return them in the same manner. Staffing levels remain the same, and there are no staff layoffs anticipated. Cleaning at the substation is conducted daily and deputies sanitize patrol vehicles at the beginning and end of every shift.”
Renovations and planning at the substation, 6560 Citation Drive, have been put on hold, he said.
“For the first responders in general, we plan for just such incidents. After this pandemic subsides, every agency will be doing an after-action report and look at ensuring they are ready for the next major incident, continuously improving in all possible areas,” he said.