HAMILTON — Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton says deputies are taking "every precaution" right now to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. But even with the emergency, people should feel free to report any crimes and concerns they're worried about.
Like the rest of the state, the Bitterroot Valley is a very quiet place right now because of the outbreak. But Ravalli County Sheriff's deputies are continuing to make their rounds while following all the guidelines to stay safe interacting with the public.
"They're just being very conscious of their surroundings and aware of the situation so that they can take the right precautions," Sheriff Holton said. "It starts with the 9-1-1 center. They're asking additional questions from callers to determine what we might be sending emergency services people into, deputies specifically. But EMS and even fire crews."
Sheriff Holton told MTN News one thing that is different now is how calls for service are being sorted. In an effort to keep 9-1-1 open for emergencies, the county would like people with virus questions to call the Emergency Operations Center.
"That if it's a coronavirus or COVID-19 question or concern, they should just call the EOC which is 375-6650. And that way it keeps our 9-1-1 lines free," he explained.
Sheriff Holton also says that people should still feel free to report property crimes or reach out to the Sheriff's Department with other business.
"Use the 363-3033 line. It goes right into our 9-1-1 center. One of the things we probably will do is just return a phone call to take those reports and just minimize and try to keep up physical distancing and do all the things the CDC is recommending we do right now," Sheriff Holton said.
Over the weekend, Sheriff Holton was busy dampening rumors that deputies were running checkpoints to keep people home. He stressed that's not the case at all, and he urges people to remain calm and pull together.
"You know I think a crisis is a crisis, whether it's a fire or a flood or now a pandemic. And our community, Ravalli County specifically always comes together. They're doing it right now. And as an office, we're very proud of our community and people are doing the things we need to do."