The Kenedy County Sheriff’s Office has 16 employees. Four of those employees are out due to either being diagnosed with COVID-19, or quarantining because of it.
To fill in the gaps, the sheriff’s office has brought in a reserve dispatcher, and the records clerk is filling in.
“We have one dispatcher that’s working 12 hours a day. The other two are splitting the other hours,” said Chief of Operations, Juan Guzman.
The dispatcher is also currently working seven days a week. The sheriff’s office is attempting to contract certified dispatchers to bring in, but should they need more help, neighboring Kleberg County has agreed to provide assistance.
“We can’t afford to lose any more dispatchers. If we do, we have an understanding with Kleberg County so we can transfer all our calls there, and get dispatched from there. We used to do that in the past,” Guzman said.
Kleberg County also currently has four dispatchers, with one in training, and used to handle the Kenedy County dispatch, before they got a dispatch center of their own.
“We can help if we have the availability to do so. We’re in the same boat as everybody else, but our department is a little bit bigger,” said Kleberg County Chief Deputy Jaime Garza.
Kenedy County currently has one deputy gone because of COVID-19, with another gone due to an injury.
“We’re good on deputies, if we lose too many, then we’ll run into problems,” Guzman said.
Both counties are able to help each other out should they need it, but Garza said other agencies are also available and have provided assistance in the past. He said in the past, the Department of Public Safety, Border Patrol, and Constables have helped, and that county sheriffs in the surrounding area, like Brooks, Jim Wells, and Duvall counties, stay in contact with one another to see if any one is in need of assistance.
Cases of COVID-19 are low, with the last report showing only 11 total cases during the course of the pandemic, but Guzman said they remain cautious, as the county could see an uptick in cases like surrounding counties have seen.
“There’s always the possibility. Since we don’t have anything here, all our residents have to go into Kingsville for shopping and stuff, so there’s always that possibility,” he said.
Guzman also said deputies are remaining cautious as they are out on their patrols. “They’re all taking precautions, and staying safe the best that they can,” he said.