Following reports of threats and profane speech directed at officers and staff, the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department is asking the public to comply with restrictions at its facility.

Huntington County Sheriff Chris Newton ordered precautionary measures effective Nov. 11 to protect the health and safety of critical employees that operate the facility.

“During these unprecedented times, for the safety of our community, it is imperative that our emergency responders, jail staff and inmates stay safe and healthy,” Newton said. “We had posted requests for masks to be worn into the department, during visitations and other business that is conducted here. We can not afford to lose deputies and staff due to a potential exposure and be off work for up to 14 days each, especially within the jail. Our office staff/jail staff have been threatened, yelled at and swore at because of this request. We respect an individual’s decision on the mask debate when out, but it must be worn within our facility.”

The precautionary measures include limiting access to the sheriff’s department building, located at 332 E. State St.

“If you are unsure of the importance of your situation, call dispatch at 260-356-8316,” Newton said. “There will be no change to the handling of emergency and urgent matters.”

Regarding calls for service, Newton said deputies will respond to all emergency and high priority calls as it has in the past. As of deadline Tuesday, Newton said deputies will continue to respond to non-emergency calls that require the physical presence of officers.

“Please understand that officers may be wearing latex gloves and offering no handshakes,” Newton noted. ‘Officers will likely be maintaining a safe interview distance, and may request whenever possible, to communicate in open-air locations (outdoors, porches, etc).

Non-emergency calls that do not require the presence of officers will be handled over the phone, Newton says.

The courts and jail plan to use video communication systems to conduct business, when possible, Newton says, noting that physical public access to the courtrooms may be limited at the judge’s discretion.

For records, crash reports will, as always, be available online at www.buycrash.com.

Copies of incident reports must be requested by filling out a public records request. Request paperwork can be found online at www. huntington.in.us/county.

For handgun permits, Newton said the application process begins online https://www.in.gov/isp/fire arms.htm. Fingerprinting for handgun permits is no longer done at the sheriff’s office. Newton said people should call 877-472-6917 to be fingerprinted. After completing steps 1 & 2, people are asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 260-356-2520 and leave your name and a call back number. Office staff will contact individuals for an appointment.

Regarding tax warrants, all tax warrants will be paid online at indianataxwarrants.com or by mail to the Huntington County Sheriff’s Office.

Regarding inmate visitation & commissary deposits, all lobby kiosk visitation has been suspended. Family may visit with inmates from home, via video visitation, Newton said. For video visits go to www.icsolutions.com. Placing funds on an inmate’s Commissary Account should be done at www. jailfunds.com.

“The Huntington County Sheriff’s Office is committed to maintaining a healthy and safe environment for the public, our staff, and individuals under our care and custody,” Newton said, adding a thank you for the community’s patience and understanding. “We are very hopeful this is for a limited time and will resume normal operations as soon as possible.”