March 27, 2020
I am, and always have been, committed to protecting the health and welfare of my staff and community. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges, but we have been up to the task and are doing our part to flatten the curve while fulfilling our public safety responsibilities. We have partnered with local stakeholders, including the Courts, Clerk’s Office, Corrections, and Public Defender’s Office to execute measures to protect everyone.
Drawing on our prior experience managing other major crises such as hurricanes, we transitioned to “mission-critical” status quickly and smoothly. Most of our staff and prosecutors now are on Administrative Leave. The transition has not been easy. Our Leadership Team and Information Systems (IS) staff have worked long hours creating new processes that allow us to serve the public with innovative resources like “virtual courtrooms” and other tools that help staff remain productive while working from home.
The Courts continue to conduct mission-critical hearings that address in-custody individuals, including bond hearings, domestic violence injunctions, juvenile detention hearings, Baker and Marchman Act hearings, and emergency motions.
We have accomplished so much, so quickly that we cannot provide a comprehensive list of everything. However, I wanted to provide you with a brief synopsis of our achievements:
- We implemented various measures to sanitize our offices and ensure that they were as safe as possible. We requested additional janitorial staff at various locations to wipe down work surfaces, ensured hand sanitizing stations were installed at all facility entrances and closed the office to the general public.
- We directed employees who traveled and/or exhibited fever, cough, or shortness of breath to self-isolate for 14 days, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
- We installed kiosks at the office and the Juvenile Assessment Center, allowing prosecutors to interview victims, witnesses, and police officers remotely.
- We implemented a variety of new systems to facilitate virtual conferences, meetings, interviews, pre-files, and courtrooms. As part of this mammoth effort, Information Systems configured and distributed an additional 117 laptops and provided the Administrative Office of the Courts with 135 cameras. An astounding 598 individuals took advantage of our new virtual systems during the week of March 16 alone.
- We implemented new procedures that permit us to obtain defendants’ state and national priors, review and assign cases, and file no actions and informations quickly and efficiently.
- We implemented our hotline for the public to report price-gouging and established a cooperative relationship with Amazon to facilitate investigations and prosecutions of sellers who abuse their platform.
- We created a remote Child Support Call Center to help our most vulnerable children obtain the support they need, deserve, and are entitled to. On the first day of operation, center staff processed 563 calls.
- We created internal and external webpages to keep everyone informed of what we’re doing and to provide you with resources about the virus. You may view our external page at http://www.miamisao.com/COVID19/. You also may obtain further information through our various social media accounts:
The situation obviously is very fluid. We remain committed to adapting our policies and procedures to meet our collective needs and, most importantly, to keep you safe as the situation continues to develop.
Thank again you all for your continued patience and cooperation as we work through this crisis together.
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