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March 2020 Connect with us on: Facebook logo Youtube logo

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Newton County Law Enforcement Center


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  Sheriff Brown photoSomething to Talk About:

Springing into March Madness…

“March Madness,” the term given to the collegiate men's and women's basketball tournaments, had a very different meaning this year.

Why, you ask?

The NBA abruptly suspended its season. Met Gala 2020 was postponed. Broadway closed its doors. The Boston Marathon was postponed. For the fourth time in history, Disneyland and Disney World waved goodbye to guests and closed its doors. Every event, every entertainment complex paused when the coronavirus, also knowns as COVID-19, became a widespread outbreak.

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.

We springed into battle against COVID-19 in the same way we springed in March: headfirst and together, as a team. In the darkness, we have shined bright. Times, such as this, show why “OneNewton” is important. Newton County will get through this if we continue to work as one.

NCSO inmate residents offered free vaccinations

Chambers photo
On Tuesday, March 3, Joseph Sternberg, director of Environmental Health and Injury Prevention and his staff partnered with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to address the nationwide increase in Hepatitis A cases. Incarcerated, homeless, and insecure-housing individuals are currently deemed high-risk.

Sheriff Brown welcomed the services provided by the Regional Health Department Team into the housing dorms of the NCSO’s detention facility to educate the inmate residents on the vaccines and offer free vaccinations to those interested.

“In light of the ongoing airborne viruses that our country is currently facing, it is my hope preventative measures, such as this, will aid in the reductions of cases among the incarcerated and homeless population both in Newton County and across the state,” Sheriff Brown said.

NCSO hosts 11th Annual Awards Ceremony

Hank Restoration photo

On Friday, March 6, the 11th Annual Newton County Sheriff’s Office Awards Ceremony was a night to remember as more than 50 law enforcement employees were honored for their outstanding service to the community in front of hundreds of attendees.

The ceremony was held at the Newton College and Career Academy’s Porter Auditorium with Rep. Dave Belton as the honorary speaker.

Rep. Belton, a United States Air Force Reserves retiree, spoke about the struggle’s officers face in their daily life and took a moment to express gratitude to every “man and woman who wear the blue.”

“Never before has our country asked so much of you — as parents refuse to parent, as mental health cases increase, as the citizens don’t trust you as they should,” he said. “I really appreciate and want you to know how much the people in the General Assembly appreciate everything you do.”

As the crowd applauded for each award receipt throughout the night, the room never sounded as quiet as it did when Sheriff Ezell Brown recognized the families of the community’s fallen heroes, including retired Assistant Police Chief and reserve Deputy Almond Turner; detention Deputy Benjamin Kennedy; Deputy Clarence Lee “Buddy” Allen; and Deputy Justin White who was posthumously promoted to Investigator.

The family of Deputy Justin White, the first Newton County deputy killed in the line of duty, was also recognized during the ceremony. As a strong voice above the silence, Sheriff Brown shared his questioning thoughts on why God chose him as the first Newton County sheriff to have a deputy die in the line of duty, even though he ultimately accepted the decision.

“God chose me, and I accepted it,” he said. “I took the responsibility of doing all that I can do to ensure that Justin’s family and all the rest would be honored and taken care of for the rest of their life.”

Before the ceremony concluded, Sheriff Brown appointed Sgt. Cortney Morrison and Sgt. Michael Cunningham to Lieutenants. The appointment was a surprise to everyone in the room, including the appointees. “Just so everyone knows, I had no idea,” Sgt. Morrison addressed the crowd. “This is a super big surprise to me.”

Minimizing COVID-19 outbreak in Newton County

On Saturday, March 11, the day COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office informed its citizens of every step taken to minimize the impact of COVID-19 within its facility and community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health published information proven helpful to reduce the spread of the infection through good hygiene, decreased contact with others, and isolating those who are/have been in contact with the ill.

“We are all concerned about the coronavirus and the potential impact it could have on our jail, staff, inmate residents, and communities,” Sheriff Ezell Brown said. “More importantly, we should all be prepared to minimize and mitigate the impact on the entire Sheriff’s Office operations that result from wide-spread infection.”

Sheriff Brown added, “The information listed from the CDC and DPH will prove helpful in plans to reduce the chance of infection spread and appropriate response if the infection touches your personnel and/or inmate residents.”

To help keep the workplace safe, the NCSO encouraged employees and residents to reduce the risk of spreading the virus by:
  • Using non-contact methods to greet others
  • Opening doors with elbows instead of hands
  • Regularly washing hands with soap and water
  • Limit food sharing
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks and handrails
  • Strengthen health screening
  • Stay at home if sick or have a sick family member in the household
The NCSO implemented precautions for inmate residents and staff in the following manner:
  • Provided gloves, masks, hand sanitizers and Clorox wipe stations through the facility
  • Placed educational material throughout the facility for staff and visitors
Newton County Jail implements Pandemic Response Plan
On Friday, March 13, the Newton County Jail implemented the Pandemic Response Plan.
The Pandemic Response Plan was approved by the Sheriff’s Office’s correctional facility and the corporate medical officer of NaphCare, a correctional healthcare service for inmates, to minimize the risk of a coronavirus outbreak among the jail’s inmate residents.

The following actions are now in place within the Newton County Jail:
The correctional facilities’ intake officers and nursing staff work together in the pre-booking areas to screen individuals for a cough, shortness of breath, and/or fever prior to acceptance.

Additionally, jail staff will mask individuals who have a higher risk for infection and transmission as well as quarantined the individuals showing symptoms of an infection.

During the screening process, the jail staff will ask every individual a series of questions to evaluate whether he or she has come in contact with the infection. The questions will include, but are not limited to, whether he or she traveled outside of the country; has knowledge of any type of contact with an infectious individual; or has a history of an infectious disease. The negative pressure rooms will be used for quarantine purposes in the event an inmate resident shows symptoms while in custody. Gwinnett and DeKalb counties have informed the Sheriff’s Office of additional quarantine units it can utilize, if necessary.

NCSO temporarily suspends Weekender and Work Release program

On Saturday, March 14, the Newton County Superior Court judges and Sheriff Ezell Brown met and agreed to temporarily suspend the Weekender and Work Release programs to ensure the safety of the jail staff, inmate residents, and visitors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

During the suspension, weekenders and work release inmates will be monitored by the Sheriff’s Office in accordance to conditions set forth by the programs. House arrest will be used in certain cases.

The programs will resume once the outbreak has been contained.

NCSO partners with local organizations, groups to provide meals to school-aged children

On Friday, March 14, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office announced it will ensure the safety and well-being of every child within the county following the closure announcement of the Newton County Schools.

Many children rely on the lunch they receive at school, and as everyone works through this difficult time as a community, parents should not have to worry about how to keep their children fed. “When our children are in need, we step in to help!” Sheriff Ezell Brown said. “Many of these boys and girls are in - or have graduated - from our C.H.A.M.P.S. program. We are going to join forces with some of our community partners to make sure the children are fed!”

NCSO temporarily suspends all on-site visitation

On Saturday, March 15, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office temporarily suspended all on-site visitation to ensure the safety of its entire staff and inmate residents following the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Newton County.

Moving forward, the Sheriff’s Office will offer video visitation as an alternative until the outbreak is contained.
Message from Sheriff Ezell Brown to Newton County citizens concerning COVID-19
On Wednesday, March 18, Sheriff Ezell Brown shared a message to all Newton County citizens regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:

Many of you are too young to remember Dragnet, the popular 50’s television show!  The central character, Sgt. Joe Friday, was credited with saying, “The facts, ma’am, just the facts.”  The thought suggests the importance of stating exactly what happened without exaggeration or embellishment. While research shows Sgt. Friday never actually said these words on the police show, they are nonetheless critical in responding to today’s pandemic.

As your Sheriff, I encourage each of you to take a step back and exhale.  Our best defense in fighting today’s pandemic is focusing on facts over fear!  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gwinnett/Newton/Rockdale County Public Health, World Health Organization, local and state Emergency Management Agency, and other authorities are working around the clock to provide guidance on maintaining healthy and safe communities. 

Normally, we don’t make sound decisions out of a sense of fear; however, we can if we focus on facts!  We can’t afford to operate in panic!  Let’s work together to restore a sense of calmness!

On Monday, I met with all department heads, including: Director Jody Nolan of the Covington Newton County Emergency Management Agency; Chief Stacey Cotton of the Covington Police Department; Chief Michael Conner of the Newton County Fire Services, Chief Jeremy Holmes of the Covington Fire Department; Chief Jason Cripps of the Porterdale Police Department; Chief Dave Harvey of the Oxford Police Department; and Director Carli Cuendet of Piedmont Newton EMS.

Together, we have developed a COVID-19 Task Force to address the current situation involving the COVID-19 pandemic in Newton County. We are working closely with the Gwinnett/Newton/Rockdale County Department of Public Health to provide adequate, timely information to the citizens of Newton County as this situation continues.

We are in the process of opening a COVID-19 testing location in Newton County to collect specimens (BY APPOINTMENT ONLY) from those individuals who are considered high risk. We hope to have a testing facility in operation as soon as possible. All cases have to be routed through the county’s local health department.

If you believe you require testing or have questions due to exposure to the COVID-19 virus, please call the Public Health hotline at 770-339-4260.

As we all know, schools are closed…parents are working from home…people are being asked to worship online.  Yes, we are being asked to STAY AT HOME.  We are living in a “new normal,” but much of what we are being asked to do is going back to the basics.  Your parents told you to wash your hands, right?  Your teacher encouraged you to stay home when you were sick.  Preschool children are taught to cough into the crooks of their arms, dispose of tissues quickly and to wash their hands for 20 seconds.  Spring cleaning has taken on new meaning.

Added things to remember in order to limit exposure is: to only go out in public if necessary (to go to store for food, pharmacy, or to the doctor), avoid large crowds, and keep social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet from individuals, if possible. Remember the most vulnerable populations are those over 60 years of age.

John Donne once said, “No man is an island.” So, we are working closely with department heads charged with first response to promote seamless services.  I have met with the county chairman, constitutional officers, judges, etc. to ensure that we are united in our approach to weathering this storm. We are following the experts, and I am encouraging everyone to allow them to guide us through this turbulent period.

There is a silver lining in every dark cloud.  Over the last few days, we have seen traditional and non-traditional community partners join forces to feed our children, help with childcare and reach out to senior citizens to make sure they are okay!  Social media posts have been used to share factual updates and strategies for coping with and even thriving in the new normal.  If we abide by the guidelines that are given by the professionals and experts, we can make it through this, just as we have with pandemics in the past. Your decisions can determine how long this will last.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office has been taking necessary precautions to safeguard our community against coronavirus since February 2020.  Practices include keeping our 500 plus inmates, more than three hundred staff members and their families, and our 115,000 citizens safe.  For example, new visitation policies are being implemented. We are moving from in-person to video visits.  The Medical Unit is utilizing modified intake techniques. Judges are agreeing to suspend work release activities.  If you are interested in hearing more about these and other strategies, please visit our website at www.newtonsheriffga.org and social media pages www.facebook.com/NewtonSheriffGA and www.instagram.com/newtonsheriffga/

NCSO, Ramsey Produce deliver produce to high-risk individuals

Ellington Champs photo

On Monday, March 23, the Newton County Sheriff s Office partnered with Ramsey Produce to deliver fresh produce to high-risk individuals who are unable to leave their home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The produce was delivered by the NCSO s Community Outreach, C.H.A.M.P.S., School Resource Officers, and Court Services divisions to the individuals’ homes at no additional charge.

We are able to partner with Ramsey Produce and offer this service, and other law enforcement services, to the community during this time,” Sheriff Ezell Brown said. We are utilizing our School Resource Officers and C.H.A.M.P.S. divisions due to school closings, and because of limited court sessions, we are utilizing law enforcement officers from Court Services.”

Sheriff Brown added, The Newton County Sheriff’s Office has constantly made it a mission to do more with less.’ Therefore, when one area has been reduced, we want to make sure we shift those resources where we know they can be useful. I appreciate my deputies for all they do in making sure this much needed service happened.

Ramsey Produce has shown the heart of small cities and their capacity of generosity for the people within the community. I count it a blessing to be a part of the Newton County community.”

As the late John Bardeen stated, The combined results of several people working together is often much more effective than could be that of an individual scientist working alone.”

The staff at the NCSO are not scientists, but they pride themselves on being team members.

The NCSO is committed to providing food to those in need until the outbreak is contained. The community’s children have been and will continue to be provided with sacked lunches through its partnership with the Newton County School System.

For high-risk individuals, the NCSO will continue to partner with Ramsey Produce to provide free delivery services for fresh produce. If you or someone you know cannot leave their house due to the coronavirus outbreak and would like to have fresh produce delivered, please call Ramsey Produce at 770-354-4188.

These are difficult times, and we must all pull together to get through it,” Ramsey Produce stated on their Facebook page. We appreciate you all for your continued support.”

In addition to providing food to those in need, the NCSO increased its welfare checks, also known as wellness checks, to ensure the safety of those quarantined during this time. Requests for a welfare check can be made by calling 911.

Home Depot Covington donates N95 masks to NCSO

Champs Graduation photo

On Thursday, March 26, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office received a donation of 120 N95 masks from Home Depot Covington’s Store Manager Rett Rasmusan and Assistant Manager John Patterson.

The masks will allow the Sheriff's Office to keep its deputies and staff safe from COVID-19 while on duty.

“During these troubling times, Home Depot stepped up and provided our deputies and staff with much-needed protection so we can stay safe while continuing to serve our community. Thank you for being a team player,” Sheriff Ezell Brown said. “With partners like Home Depot, we will all get through this. As Calvin Coolidge once said, ‘No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.’”

NCSO, local organizations provide more thousands of lunches to school-aged children

On Monday, March 16, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the Housing Authority of the City of Covington – alongside other concerned citizens – to provide sacked lunches to children living at the Housing Authority on Monday, March 16. This partnership proved to be successful with more than 100 sacked lunches handed out.

On Thursday, March 19, the Newton County community reminded everyone why small towns are America’s best amid the coronavirus outbreak. Local organizations and groups have provided more than 700 sacked lunches this week to school-aged children.

“On a normal Monday or Tuesday, our C.H.A.M.P.S. and Community Outreach divisions would be in the Newton County School System working with students. This week is far from normal,” Sheriff Ezell Brown said. “Those students are not in school; they are at home. Unfortunately, many of those students rely on school lunches to meet their nutritional needs.”

Sheriff Brown continued, “When we heard a group of concerned citizens were coming together to feed the children, we joined forces. Our hope is this will continue so our kids will not go hungry.”
All the food included in the lunches were donated.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the following organizations and individuals to help feed the children:

Shakila Henderson-Baker, Newton County Board of Education representative and chairwoman; Bethlehem Baptist Church; Debbie Hillman, Newton County community advocate; members from CTO AKA; Sherri Washington, Rockdale County commissioner; Newton County educators Rodrick Baker, Kia Clark Waters, Pat Sheppard, Carolyn Dixon, Shaun Dixon and Taticasejuana Stevens; Cassandra Brooks, Head Start director; JaQuila Butler, Kourageous Black Girl Mentor Group Bold Ministries; Jeffrey Johnson, Newton County BOE District 4 candidate; JC Henderson, Newton County District 4 commissioner;  Chi Tau Omega Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc.; New Rock Legal Society; New Rock Top Ladies of Distinction; Rockdale/Newton NCNW; National Panhellenic Members from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Kappa Alpha PSI Fraternity, Inc.; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.; and local Newton County YMCA.

On Friday, March 20, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office handed out more than 200 sacked lunches to school-aged children within the Nelson Heights and Green Acres communities. NCSO Deputy Tim Smith and the Newton County School System worked together to feed school-aged children with meals delivered by Santia Moore, from Action Ministries.

On Tuesday, March 24, a little bit of rain didn't stop the Newton County Sheriff’s Office!
NCSO Deputy Michael Gregg and Deputy Tim Smith, from the C.H.A.M.P.S. and Community Outreach divisions, partnered with the Newton County School System to handout sacked lunches to children while school is closed.

More than 300 sacked lunches were given to children across three locations: Veterans Memorial Middle School, Middle Ridge Elementary School, and South Salem Elementary School.

On-going scams every individual should be aware of

On Wednesday, March 25, the White House and Senate leaders finalized an agreement on an estimated $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package to provide financial stability amid coronavirus pandemic. As more information has yet to be released regarding the delivery method for the economic stimulus checks, scammers have found an opportunity to use the payments as a means for phishing attacks.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center issued an alert warning surrounding the phishing attacks, telling people to be on the lookout for emails requesting verification for personal information in order to receive a check from the government.

“While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money,” the FBI said.

In addition to phishing attacks, counterfeit products – such as N95 respirator masks and sanitizing products - have made an appearance. The FBI cautioned people to watch out for anyone selling counterfeit products.

“Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19,” the FBI said. “Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment, including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves.”

More information on counterfeit treatments or equipment can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh
The FBI informed people to protect themselves and do their research before opening unknown links or attachments as well as providing any personal information in response to an email or robot call. Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and check for misspellings or wrong domains, the FBI warned.

“Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them,” the FBI stated. “Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits.”
The best sources for information regarding COVID-19 are www.cdc.govand www.coronavirus.gov.
On Friday, March 27, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Professional License Board Division warned individuals of scams involving professional licensing. Scam artists are using the COVID-19 pandemic to spread misinformation about the revocation, suspension, deactivation, or exorbitant fines of professional licenses.

The Professional Licensing Board urged any individual, who holds a professional license, to stay alert and only rely on information from a trustworthy source. All correct and accurate information can be found on the Professional Licensing Board’s website at https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing.
To report misinformation involving professional licensing, please contact the Professional Licensing Board at 844-753-7825 or email plb@sos.ga.gov.

Chambers photo

On Monday, March 30, Deputy Favel Edwards, from the C.H.A.M.P.S. and Community Outreach divisions, partnered with Newton County Schools at Covington Estates to provide meal delivery to school-aged children. More than 50 meals were handed out at this location.
Sheriff Brown welcomes new employees to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office team
  • Communications Officer Caitlin Jett joined the team on March 4. As a former journalist, she plans to raise the bar in promoting the Sheriff’s Office brand and community involvement. She is a fan of all things Disney and has two cats, Xena and Grimm.
  • Detention Officer Traevious Pearson joined the team on March 16. Prior to his employment at the Sheriff’s Office, he was employed with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office. He loves the Florida Gators and New England Patriots.
  • Detention Officer Irvin Hawkins joined the team on March 16. He is a New Orleans native.
  • Detention Officer Nadia Dennis joined the team on March 16. She is an OEF Veteran.
  • Detention Officer Demarcus Pope joined the team on March 16. He is an Eagle Scout and loves the Atlanta Falcons.

“On behalf of all of us, welcome onboard! We believe you will be a terrific asset to our team, and we look forward to your input!”

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