Humboldt County Sheriff Billy Honsal answered another batch of media questions today. Below you’ll find our handy timestamped list of the questions he faced and brief summaries of his responses.
0:14: In the month since the county’s shelter-in-place order took effect, how many felonies and misdemeanors has the Sheriff’s Office cited? And are the numbers higher or lower than the same period last year?
There were about 36 citations for misdemeanor or felony offenses in March, Honsal says. There were also 11 warrant arrests, for which citations were issued in lieu of taking the offenders to jail. Those numbers are down from previous months. Moving violation citations were also “way way down” in March, largely because people aren’t moving around as much, he adds.
1:05: Has the sheriff’s office had to furlough any employees?
Nope. “We do have people working from home,” he says, but the office is considered essential, and most employees are coming to work, with deputy sheriffs on an emergency 12-hour schedule.
1:39: Has the shutdown had any impact on Measure Z funding?
There will be a steep decline in sales tax revenue, which is the source of Measure Z funds, Honsal says. And the state is allowing businesses to defer their tax bills until the end of June. “It is definitely going to make an impact,” says the sheriff.
2:19: What’s the current population of the jail? What was it this time last year?
It’s about 230 right now, he says. “That is a huge decrease [from] what it was last year,” when the average daily population was in the 390s. Max capacity is 417. “We’ve released 170 inmates, essentially, in the last month or so,” Honsal says.
3:00: The Federal Bureau of Prisons confined all inmates to their cells for 14 days to stop the spread of COVID-19. Is this being done in the jail?
From the beginning of the outbreak, the sheriff’s office implemented a plan to quarantine inmates coming into the correctional facility for 14 days with regular monitoring. “It is working,” Honsal says. “We have not had a case of COVID in the jail.”
4:13: A lot of people are facing layoffs, but the Sheriff’s Office is hiring?
Yup. Dispatchers, correctional deputies, deputy sheriffs. “So please look at our website, humboldtgov.org or humboldtsheriff.org” to see all the openings, Honsal says.
5:06: It’s National Emergency Tele-communicators Week. Talk about that?
“That means it’s dispatcher communications week,” Honsal explains. And he sings the praises of the local crew. “These people are literally our lifeline, in so many ways,” he says.