Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is the Sheriff’s Office still responding to emergencies?
​Yes. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide emergency services throughout the County. Several temporary changes have been implemented to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 for both our personnel and the public.

Question: I am a Sheriff’s Office employee and think I have been exposed to COVID-19. Who do I call?
​Notify your direct supervisor immediately and call the COVID Team at 408-808-4843 or [email protected]

Question: I have read a lot of scary stuff about COVID-19 in jails around the country. What is the Sheriff’s Office doing to keep inmates safe during the pandemic?
The Sheriff’s Office has taken a number of steps to protect inmates. Some of those steps include:​​

  • The Sheriff’s Office will be introducing limited social visits to our jails beginning on Monday 6/29/20. Please navigate to the following link to schedule a visit:​.
    Please review the following COVID-19 related Visiting Safety Guidelines and FAQ’s to learn how visiting will be managed during this first phase. Please note: the guidelines will be in addition to all existing visiting rules and regulations. We expect to review the visiting process on a weekly basis, so please be sure to check back here for updates.
  • ​We certainly understand how important it is for inmates to stay connected with their loved ones and have worked with the phone service provider to give all inmates ten FREE 5-minute phone calls each week. These phone calls are in addition to the normal availability of using the pay-phone service.
  • ​Tri-lingual signage has been posted in the facilities reminding inmates of ways to protect themselves from being exposed.
  • ​To improve the sanitary conditions of the jails, additional cleaning supplies are being provided and the cleaning schedule has been increased to two times per day.
  • ​The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with Custody Health Services to ensure the safety of inmates and staff. The jails have isolation cells with negative airflow like you would find in a hospital. These cells help reduce the risk of airborne transmission. Inmates who develop symptoms are rehoused away from others and are monitored by Custody Health.

Question: Where can I receive my COVID-19 test result if I was released from jail before the results came back?
If you were tested for COVID-19 and released prior to receiving results, please call the COVID Results Hotline at 408-808-5790. Leave a message with your contact information, including PFN, and someone will call you back with your results.

Question: Can I come to the Sheriff’s Office to get fingerprinted?
​The Sheriff’s Office has temporarily stopped providing fingerprinting services.

​Question: I live in one of your contract cities. How can I speak with our local patrol?
The lobby of the West Valley Substation is closed. However, Sheriff’s Office services are still available. If you would like to speak with a deputy, you can call the dispatch line at 408-299-2311 anytime. You can also call the office directly at 408-868-6600 on Monday through Friday between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM.

Question: I am not reading many stories about crimes happening right now. But, if I am a victim of a crime and I call 9-1-1, will anyone come to help me?

  • Public safety is still our top priority. We will continue to respond to calls for emergency assistance throughout the public health emergency. If you have emergency call 9-1-1, we will respond, as appropriate.
  • Additionally, in order to safeguard our deputies and other first responders, we ask that if you call 9-1-1 for emergency services and are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please advise the dispatcher.
  • We are also completing patrol check requests as requested. If you would like a patrol check please call our Non-Emergency line at 408-299-2311 or complete a patrol check request form.

Question: What measures are being taken to educate the inmates and staff about the virus?

  • COVID -19 flyers have been placed in all housing units and added to the inmate info loop on facility televisions. Flyers provide information related to hygiene, social distancing & requests to see medical if feeling ill.
  • On a daily basis, Sheriff’s Office personnel are reminding inmates of social distancing and proper cleanliness of the facility.

Question:  We have heard that commissary is no longer available to inmates?
​Commissary is available to all inmates. Please note: Due to COVID-19 restricted access precautions, commissary ordering procedures have changed slightly. Please see the most recent bulletin on commissary​ for changes.​

​Question: Seeing the speed of the spreading in other incarceration facilities such as San Quentin tells us we need swift action now in order to prevent an even larger catastrophe.
​Santa Clara County currently maintains very low C19+ percentages in our SCC Jails compared to San Quentin Prison (see chart below)

   SCC Jails
   Inmate Population       In-Custody COVID (+)
   2100                    7 (or 1%)
   SCC Jails     
   Total Inmates Tested    Overall COVID (+)
   2860                    53 (2%)

   San Quentin
   Inmate Population       In-Custody COVID (+)
   6000                    1021 (17%) 


Question: Doctors from Public Health should immediately and regularly monitor those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Those who have tested positive should be transferred to a hospital which is a better equipped facility to properly treat patients with COVID-19.
​​COVID positive (C19+) inmates receive concentrated medical care and if/when hospitalization was necessary, the C19+ person in need would be transported and admitted to the hospital.

Public Health officials should do regular reviews of the jails — they should be allowed to have access to conduct inspections without prior notification.
​Sheriff Smith and her executive leadership have been in constant communication with Public Health, and have invited them to visit the jails (announced or unannounced) anytime they choose.

Public Health and jail administrators should review and share video surveillance of deputies’ activities and movement to enforce mask-wearing.
​COVID-compliance directives have been enacted, civilian complaints about staff not wearing masks are investigated appropriately, and video surveillance is reviewed (in accordance with our County of Santa Clara Surveillance Use Policy). When staff are identified as ‘in violation’ of said directives, the proper corrective action is imposed.

We have heard that even attorneys who attempt to set up calls with their clients are being denied. While this is very troubling, we also believe this may be an illegal practice.
Attorney interactions with their incarcerated clients have always been allowed. Attorneys can enter the jails anytime and without an appointment or scheduled visit. Inmates can call their attorneys anytime they have out-of-cell time, and an alternate option is available wherein attorneys can schedule inmate-to-attorney phone call times that custody staff will accommodate when operationally feasible to do so.

There should be testing of everyone in the main jail — and an accounting of where CO’s have been after a possible exposure.
​​​There’s been a strong push to screen employees by offering COVID testing at the worksite and giving priority to those possibly exposed. A mobile COVID testing bus was made available for all staff, and soon we will begin regular onsite COVID testing at the facilities. Our COVID Tracing Unit (CTU) was a ground-breaking unit created by the Sheriff and modeled by others. This unit has done phenomenal work lessoning and preventing the spread of COVID. We have the utmost confidence they will ‘trace’ all staff and inmates who test positive or are exposed to a C19+ individual, and will make all the necessary notifications. 

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