Sheriff: Plexiglass barriers to be installed at courthouse

Sheriff: Plexiglass barriers to be installed at courthouse

By: DANIEL WINNINGHAM

Enquirer~Democrat managing editor

In an effort to help in the ongoing battle with the COVID-19 virus, offices at the Macoupin County Courthouse will soon be outfitted with plexiglass barriers, according to Sheriff Shawn Kahl.

The announcement came at Tuesday’s County Board meeting, in which all members participated, either socially distanced at the second floor meeting room at the sheriff’s department or remotely via a Zoom connection.

“It looks like most officials are going to have plexiglass at their doors now, so we’re trying to get that in line,” Kahl said.

The glass cutters have made measurements and will be installing them soon, Kahl said.

“I know there are some concerns about how it’s going to look but I can assure you the gentleman doing it he’s very good at what he does and makes things look like,” Kahl said. “This stuff may have to stay, so he’s going to make it to where if it stays, it’s going to look nice.”

Kahl reported Serv-Pro was hired to do a thorough cleaning of the courthouse following an exposure incident earlier in the month.

“It was cleaned,” Kahl noted. “I shut it down.

The final cost was $15,500 and the courthouse opened up early Monday morning.

“Every public official has to screen their own employees as they come in. My security guys are screening the patrons as they come into the courthouse,” Kahl said.

County Board member and finance committee chairman Dave Thomas said the county is checking with its insurance provider to see if its policy will cover the recent courthouse cleaning as well as the installation of plexiglass.

“It’s going to be a substantial amount,” Kahl said.

Keeping the virus out of the jail continues to be an ongoing battle, according to Kahl.

“We’ve had a little trouble with some agencies that want to arrest people and try to bring them to our jail, so we tried to put a stop to that, if they don’t necessarily need to be in our jail,” Kahl said. “We’re trying to screen them before they even get to our jail as far as where they have been working at, what they’ve been doing. What happened. Why are you arresting them, what’s the reasoning. They released 3,000 prisoners in the state of Illinois, a lot of them violent criminals. Unless they are very violent criminals, I really don’t want them in my jail at this point in time. We’re trying to monitor that as much as we can, so a lot of the stuff that (police officers) would arrest for before they’re not necessarily doing that now. We’re trying to curb that. We’re trying to keep tabs on that. We still have federal prisoners. We are not getting rid of them. We’re not sending them back. We’re working with them fine. We’re doing video conferences, we’re doing video court with them.”

“We’re still getting multiple calls in, deputies are still running extremely hard, lots of calls in,” Kahl said. “Things kind of slowed down for a little bit but it’s back up again. All calls in general. We’re trying to still handle them by phone as much as we can, not do in person stuff, if we don’t have to. A lot of emergencies obviously we’ve got to go to them. Dispatch, we’ve pretty well locked dispatch down, trying to keep everybody out of there.”

Prisoners are still arriving, according to the Sheriff.

“We’ve had lots of new prisoners coming in,” Kahl said. “We’re not testing them, we’re screening them the best we can.”

Masks are not required for those resising in the jail at this time, according to Kahl.

“The way we understand it, that’s their home,” Kahl said. “You don’t really have to do that at home, so you don’t have to do that in jail. There’s really no way you could do that.”

As with most county offices, the access will remain limited.

“We will not have any public access to the office until we can get our protective counter installed,” he said. “If anybody needs immediate assistance we’ll go run down and meet them at court security.”

Thomas credited the county employees for their efforts in dealing with the pandemic.

“I just want to commend the officials, judges and department heads for doing what they did until the pandemic hit in keeping their expenses pretty much in line with what we had appropriated and budgeted. Now, we have another financial challenge in front of us