La PORTE — The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office on Monday announced procedural changes in response to the coronavirus outbreak, including handling most non-emergency calls by phone and a suspension of VIN checks.

“Current unprecedented times call for changes and adjustments to help ensure the well-being of the county and our deputies,” Sheriff John Boyd said in a statement.

“Citizens are asked to only come to the front desk for necessary business and jail related matters.” Anyone unsure of the importance of your situation, call the Sheriff’s Office at 219-326-7700, ext. 2324.

Deputies will respond to all emergency and in-progress calls for service as in the past, but non-emergency calls that do not require the physical presence of a deputy may be handled over the phone, Boyd said.

“Deputies who do respond to a specific location may be wearing latex gloves. Deputies have been instructed to maintain a safe interview distance of at least 6 feet, and if possible, communicate in open-air locations,” he said.

Because the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has provided extensions for matters related to licensing, there is no immediate need for VIN checks to be completed at this time by deputies, Boyd said.

So until further notice, deputies will not be completing VIN checks and the service will be suspended.

For copies of crash and incident reports, call the records department at 219-326-7700. Requests can be either emailed, sent via fax or sent via USPS.

The application process for handgun permits begins online at in.gov/isp/2829.htm. A copy of your fingerprint receipt, driver’s license, and money for the actual permit is needed. Citizens may call or look up the price online.

While in-person inmate visitation is suspended at the La Porte County Jail, deposits may be made via kiosk in the lobby of the Sheriff’s Office to inmate accounts. Remote inmate visitation via video will continue without interruption.

La Porte County Courts will be utilizing either video arraignment or ZOOM for most hearings, though there may be court proceedings which require the presence of the defendant in a courtroom. Those adjustments will be made accordingly, Boyd said.

Non-contact meetings between attorneys and defendants within the jail will continue without interruption.

“The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office remains committed to maintaining a healthy and safe environment for the public, our staff, and individuals under our care and custody,” Boyd said.

“The number one priority of the Sheriff’s Office is the safety, security and health of every citizen in La Porte County. Please take care of yourself, your family and your loved ones.”

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