“I guess you could talk yourself into jail,” Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson said, “but you’d have to be a jackwagon to do that.”

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It’s not likely that someone found on one of Walton County’s 26 miles of beaches — closed to the public under the county commission’s March 19 declaration of a local state of emergency, aimed at controlling the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory illness — will be taken to jail.

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But it’s not entirely out of the question, either, Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson said Thursday evening.

“I guess you could talk yourself into jail,” Adkinson said, “but you’d have to be a jackwagon to do that.

“Frankly,” Adkinson added, “we don’t want people in the jail, because we don’t want COVID-19 in the jail.”

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The county currently is relying on education to keep people off the beaches, and is using the Tourist Development Council, the TDC’s “beach ambassadors” and code enforcement personnel to help do that. But Adkinson said that if those interactions escalate, “then you get a deputy.”

Adkinson’s comments came during his latest hour-long ”Sheriff Live“ video livestream, available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s an informal, folksy, down-home digital opportunity for the sheriff to talk with and take questions from residents and others interested in Sheriff’s Office operations.

Not surprisingly, Thursday’s “Sheriff Live” focused on the county’s efforts to control the spread of the new coronavirus, which is responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak affecting more county residents each day.

“This is about people working together,” Adkinson said of the county’s beach closures and state actions to close bars and limiting restaurants to take-out service. “We’re not policing our way out of this thing.”

Indeed, the sheriff said Thursday he is looking at the possibility of reducing Sheriff’s Office call responses — if the COVID-19 outbreak is still active in 90 days and if the illness has caused attrition of 15 percent of his workforce.

Reduced response would include citizens filing reports for certain incidents — lost items and some civil matters, for example — by telephone, Adkinson said. At the same time, though, Adkinson assured residents that if they ask for a deputy, a deputy will come.

But currently, Adkinson said his deputies face a different challenge in allocating its resources.

“It’s taking everything we can do to keep people off the beaches,” he said.

Asked by a Thursday viewer if the beach closure was taking deputies’ time away from other duties, Adkinson had a one-word answer.

“Yes,” he said.

Nonetheless, Adkinson explained for viewers wondering why beach closure enforcement seems to be getting more attention than issues such as speeders on U.S. Highway 98, that the spread of coronavirus “is an imminent threat ... more people are affected.”

“It (controlling COVID-19) has to be done now,” Adkinson said.

Among the beach-related questions Adkinson fielded Thursday was why beaches couldn’t be opened to residents.

The problem with that, Adkinson suggested, is how to define “local” – whether it should include only full-time residents or property owners or whatever.

Adkinson conceded that some sort of identification program, perhaps with vehicle stickers, could be used to identify locals. But, he quickly added, the logistics of issuing stickers to thousands of people would be problematic.

On a related note, Adkinson responded to a question about stopping cars with out-of-state license plates as a means of coronavirus control by reminding his audience that constitutional rights would preclude that kind of activity.

“We need to be thoughtful and diligent,” he said.

In responding to other questions, Adkinson said he hoped that boat ramps in county parks could remain open if, as was discussed at a recent County Commission meeting, some county parks are closed under the local state of emergency.

Closing the ramps, Adkinson suggested, could close off Choctawhatchee Bay to one of the few local recreational opportunities not limited by the “social distancing” being employed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The bay is a great place right now,” Adkinson said.