The Solon Police Department is seeing an uptick in use of its jail since a slow down this past spring at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Richard A. Tonelli reported to the City Council Safety and Public Properties Committee last week that the use of the jail and total arrests have increased.

Chief Tonelli said the jail population began to decline around April and May when Gov. Mike DeWine ordered a shutdown of businesses and large gatherings. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the average daily jail population was about 12, he said.

During the initial months of the outbreak, the jail restricted some intake, both for Solon and the other agencies that contract for services, Chief Tonelli explained. The jail also implemented a policy that officers entering the jail facility for routine matters would have their temperatures checked to ensure they were not sick as stipulated by the Ohio Department of Health, he added.

Jail visitation also was canceled and changes were made to health screenings, Chief Tonelli continued. Corrections officers were required to wear personal protective equipment before administering breath tests.

In May, the jail saw an increase of 62 percent in the number of jail bookings and 62-percent increase in the number of inmates housed or held for other agencies compared to pre-April bookings. In June, the jail had an increase of 54 percent in bookings and 62 percent in the number of inmates housed or held for other agencies compared to May numbers.

In July, that increase was 36 percent over the prior month for jail bookings and 26 percent for those housed or held for other agencies.

Things are getting back to normal, he said.

The city jail is used by about 16 different communities, including Pepper Pike, Orange, Woodmere and Chagrin Falls. These contracts provide a steady revenue stream and help to offset costs.

The jail also accepts prisoners from the Cuyahoga County Jail and Cuyahoga County who are being held in any municipal facility without formal contract. The jail’s maximum capacity is 26.

There have not been any prisoners or staff infected with COVID-19 to date, the chief said. The full-service jail, led by administrator Shawn Filmer, is comprised of 13 corrections officers. The jail was part of the original construction of the police station on Solon Road, built in 1997.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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