EL PASO, Texas - Some of El Paso's top law enforcement officials are busy setting up new jail protocols to keep the local inmate population safe from coronavirus infection.
As of now, El Paso’s inmate population of 2,100 has no Covid-19 infections.
A single test has been carried out on an inmate but it has since come back negative for the virus.
The overall inmate population at the beginning of March was at about 2,400.
That drop off is a result of efforts by law enforcement to lower the inmate population, keeping them safer in turn.
“And it also boils down to our officers using their discretion," said El Paso Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tom Whitten. "They have options like instead of actually arresting a person and bringing them before the jail magistrate they can do cite and release them or give a summons to these people or just making the determination not to arrest on sight."
All law enforcement and correction facility staff are now being screened for coronavirus symptoms on a daily basis.
Officials are also about utilizing the sick bays and medical facilities that have been set aside for inmates, relying on a close partnership with staff from the University Medical Center.
“So they see everybody on the front end and they are actually the people who do the screenings so the minute a person comes in they are being seen by a UMC nurse," said Whitten. "They make the call based on that screening criteria."
Another considerable change has been the complete elimination of all inmate visitations, which Whitten says is actually something the inmates there have come to understand, support and get on board with during this difficult time.