May 27, 2020
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Arkansas Courts Receive Personal Protective Equipment
The cost and availability of PPE were significant barriers to normal court operations in many Arkansas counties.
The Arkansas judiciary has begun distribution of free personal protective equipment (PPE) to the state’s courts to help keep Arkansans who use the court system safe, as well as the state’s judges and court staff.
The equipment includes 200,000 face masks and 200 medical-grade thermometers that have been acquired by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).
“The public expects, as it should, to be safe when entering our courts. That is always our goal. From the beginning, we identified personal protective equipment as a top priority in achieving that goal,” said County Judge Barry Moehring of Benton County. “We’ve been in close partnership with the AOC and it was a real benefit that they were able to assist with PPE provision.”
Administrative judges or their designees can pick up the supplies at the Justice Building in Little Rock.
“With the items we’ve obtained, we can screen people for symptoms as they enter the building and provide masks or gloves if people don’t have them. When combined with social distancing practices, these measures make our court practices as safe as can be expected during this crisis,” said Circuit Judge Carlton Jones of the 8th Circuit South, serving Lafayette and Miller Counties.
The cost and availability of PPE were significant barriers for normal court operations in many Arkansas counties.
“I was relieved that the AOC was able to acquire the amounts of PPE that they did. For some of the counties in our circuit, proper safety measures would have been implemented but it would have come with a huge financial burden, even if we could have found all the PPE we would have needed,” said Circuit Judge Hamilton Singleton of the 13th Judicial Circuit, which serves Calhoun, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita, and Union Counties. “That problem has now been alleviated, and we will be able to provide the safe, secure courts that our citizens deserve. The current level of distribution will meet our needs and we are thankful for that.”
The judiciary is asking Arkansans who already have their own face masks and/or gloves to bring them to the courthouse so that the court’s supply can be reserved for members of the public who have been unable to secure PPE.
“Our Committee is pleased to assist with the provision and distribution of personal protective equipment to courts around the state as it furthers the Committee’s mission to protect the health and welfare of all participants in Arkansas courts,” said Circuit Judge Gordon W. “Mack” McCain, Jr., who is chair of the judiciary’s Committee on Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Director of the AOC Marty Sullivan said he expects to receive additional shipments of PPE in the near future. “We were thrilled to be able to procure and distribute over 200,000 pieces of PPE to courts around the state. And there is more to come. Arkansans deserve to feel safe in their courts and the judiciary is committed to that. Our Supreme Court’s direction and emphasis from the beginning of this health crisis has been safe, accessible courts where justice is secure,” he said.