Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Ingham County Sheriff's Office suspends non-criminal fingerprinting services amid COVID-19 concerns

March 13, 2020
The East Lansing Police Department on Park Lane, photographed on March 10, 2020.
The East Lansing Police Department on Park Lane, photographed on March 10, 2020. —
Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

The Ingham County Sheriff's Office has suspended fingerprinting for the general public for non-court related instances due to COVID-19, according to a press release from Ingham County. The decision to suspend this service stems from concerns of spreading the disease.

"When taking fingerprints as a service for the general public, customers are un-screened, have to actually enter the workspace of our records bureau, and stand directly next to our clerks. Our employees then have to handle ungloved hands to take the prints," according to the statement.

The release explained that hands have been deemed as one of the likely ways to transmit the virus.

"Because it's non-criminal, non-court ordered we've decided to suspend and protect not only our staff, but the public from any possible spread of the virus," Ingham County Sheriff's Office Captain Greg Harris said.

In addition, the Ingham County Sheriff's Office has moved to limit access of non-essential individuals to its facilities.

The office said this service will resume at a later date, after consulting with its health department.

"The Sheriff's Office, like most entities, are asking for patience during this time of learning," Harris said. "We're learning what the virus is doing and we're trying to not only protect the public but ourselves as we develop ways in which to prevent the spread."

East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez said the suspension of fingerprinting for the general public has not gone into effect at ELPD's facility, but the situation is rapidly evolving and subject to change.

"Internally, city-wide, we've had conversations to discuss the continuity of government operations so that, if a significant portion of city staff starts to get sick, how are we gonna manage that, how do we try to eliminate or keep that contained as much as possible if something like that were to happen," Gonzalez said.

MSUPD is pending response regarding possible changes to the facility in relation to COVID-19.

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