EAST BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- An East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy who was a member of the force for more than 26 years died from coronavirus Sunday morning, marking the first publicly announced death among local law enforcement agencies as the human toll of the virus continues to grow.
Sgt. Gregory Warren, a former U.S. Marine who worked as a supervisor in the inmate transportation division for the sheriff's office, was 53 years old. Sheriff Sid Gautreaux announced Warren's death Sunday morning, describing him as "a dedicated public servant" who will be greatly missed.
"My heart breaks for his wife Carol, his children, his coworkers and all of those that loved him," Gautreaux said. "Please remember his family in your prayers."
Warren had taken time off from work and then became ill shortly before he was scheduled to return last month, officials said. He spent several days in the hospital before succumbing to the disease.
Warren grew up in Waterproof, a village in rural Tensas Parish about 20 miles north of Ferriday that was named for its apparent immunity from the Mississippi River's floodwaters during the community's early history. He moved to Baton Rouge and joined the sheriff's office after serving in the Marines, officials said.
The EBRSO transportation division is responsible for transporting inmates from the parish jail to the courthouse, among other places. Warren was a supervisor, meaning he helped oversee the division but didn't interact directly with inmates.
Several other deputies have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days and still others are self quarantining. At least three jail inmates have also tested positive.
"We are all in a period of uncertainty and challenge in dealing with this national pandemic. The safety and health of every member of our community is something I work and pray for daily," Gautreaux said in a statement, imploring his subordinates to "please take all necessary precautions and use all available equipment and resources to protect themselves not only at work, but any time they must be out in the community."
The sheriff's office is providing personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, to all deputies. Local law enforcement agencies have also asked that members of the public report crimes over the phone whenever possible to minimize close contact.
Gautreaux and Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul have said they're developing plans to reallocate manpower if the need arises because a significant number of officers get sick or have to quarantine. It's one of several potential impacts on public safety and the local criminal justice system as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the Baton Rouge area.
As of Friday, just one city police officer had tested positive and three others were being quarantined.
"I am so grateful to all of our first responders and health care professionals for their hard work and commitment during what are troubling times for all of us," Gautreaux said. "May God bless and protect each of you."
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