COUNTY — The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is asking its deputies and other law enforcement agencies to stop arresting offenders who do not pose a risk to the public, in order to keep the jails as uncrowded and safe as possible amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sheriff’s Office runs the jail and the request, made Wednesday, takes effect immediately, Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas said.

“We’re asking our law enforcement partners, and our deputies, to cite and release and longform offenders if they are not a risk to public safety,” Capas said.

Larger cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia are following similar edicts.

According to the Baltimore Sun, “Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby ordered her staff Wednesday to dismiss pending criminal charges against anyone arrested for possessing drugs including heroin, attempted distribution of any drug, prostitution, trespassing, minor traffic offenses, open container and urinating in public.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer is also reporting that Philadelphia Police are scaling back arrests on non-violent offenses.

Aside from the arrests, Capas said the jail will no longer hold inmates for federal agencies such as the U.S. Marshal’s Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Also on Wednesday, Sheriff’s officials said they would not allow volunteers, non-Sheriff’s Office personnel and contract employees, to enter the jail, Capas said.

Since March 10, booking officers have also been taking the temperature of every new inmate, Capas said, to determine if the individual has to be referred to medical staff. The jail currently has an isolation pod available for inmates who are ill.

Capas said if an inmate has a temperature of 100.4 or higher, then that person will be interviewed and referred to medical staff.

“They’ll be asked about recent travel, whether they associated with anyone who was sick, and whether they have any symptoms,” Capas said. “The symptoms are fever, shortness of breath, a sore throat.”

Capas said the isolation pod accommodates 32 people. So far, it’s empty. She said the Sheriff’s Office request for fewer arrests and the jail restrictions, will be in place until further notice.

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