Police: Distancing enforcement order unclear

Terrence Antonio James/Chicago TribuneAfter people flocked to Lake Michigan on a warm day, Chicago police limit access to the lakefront trail, including at Fullerton Avenue on March 25, 2020. The city of Chicago is trying to enforce the concept of social distancing during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

Law enforcement agencies across the state are tasked with ensuring public safety while questions of how to enforce Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders remain.

With non-essential gatherings of any size prohibited, a recent executive order from the governor’s office now grants police the ability to issue tickets to residents who do not comply. Fines for violators can range from $500-$1,000, according to the governor.

When an executive order limits the number of people who can occupy any space, the occupancy of any such space by more than that number of people is considered a violation of the law, according to the executive order issued March 27.

“In the event of any such violation, any state, county or local police officer authorized to enforce laws within the jurisdiction in which the space or facility is located is authorized to remove persons from such space or facility,” according to the order.

State, county and local code enforcement officials or fire marshals are also authorized to issue appearance tickets, a Notice of Violation, an Order to Remedy the violation or a Do Not Occupy Order to any owner, operator or occupant of the facility.

“Nothing in this provision shall limit the authority of any governmental unit or agency to take such other and/or additional enforcement actions to the extent necessary to ensure compliance with such occupancy-related directives or facility operation-related directives,” according to the order.

State police will take appropriate action if they are made aware of residents congregating, said State Police Director of Public Information Beau Duffy.

“Troopers are on their regular patrols,” Duffy said. “If we become aware of an issue, we will investigate and take appropriate action if needed. Multiple state agencies, including the Department of Health, Department of State and state police, are assisting local authorities in the enforcement of the governor’s executive orders restricting large gathering and public space congregations, as well as ensuring the orderly operations of only essential businesses.” Hudson Police Chief Edward Moore said the matter of enforcement of social distancing needs to be more clear.

“There’s just been so much confusion,” Moore said. “When we find people in the park or find people gathering we break them up. We ask them to leave.”

The next logical leap, Moore said, is to be able to write violators tickets and have the ability to fine them.

Moore had a virtual meeting with city leaders, including Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson, to discuss the issue on Wednesday.

“It’s been posed to the city to come up with some enforcement law,” Moore said. “A lot of this might apply to code enforcement.”

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office will continue to disperse crowds when deputies see them, Sheriff Peter Kusminsky said.

“We are going to warn them they are violating those rules and need to disperse at this point,” Kusminsky said.

The sheriff’s office will consult with the district attorney if further action needs to be taken, Kusminsky said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

(2) comments

Chris B

Dear Compulsion,

Ummm, I don’t know if you noticed that NY hit 139,876 confirmed cases today. Even though today’s increase in confirmed cases was less than yesterday, it’s still an increase of 8,046 cases. The next nearest state is New Jersey with 76,876 confirmed cases, with an increase of 4,695 new confirmed cases today. I’ve been following the numbers for weeks. The numbers wholly have led me to believe that NY in totality was not prepared. Greene County in comparison to other NY county confirmed cases is actually pretty low, even Columbia County for instance. So, yet again, you just use this as a platform for your obsession, the jail. Eventually you’re going to run out of straws and it will be on to the next obsession. It just baffles me, and I’m certain many others as well, that you carry on like you do even still as you surely know you’re just wasting oxygen at this point. If nothing else, perhaps take pause, and focus on contributing to the well being of our community as so many others have chosen to do.

scottmyers

We’re in a dramatic pandemic. Greene County is NOT prepared. The numbers are low because we aren’t significantly testing. We think a jail is more important, even if it’s not at all justifiable. $90 million! And on top of an annual budget of $114 million.

So, yes, there’s confusion. The answer is physical distancing, not social distancing.

Meanwhile construction of the monster in Coxsackie, the new and not needed jail, continues. Risk occurs BY LAW ENFORCEMENT, forcibly!

This is consistent with SCOC’s report “Worst Offender,” which named the behavior of our Sheriff’s Office a worst offender. https://scoc.ny.gov/pdfdocs/Problematic-Jails-Report-2-2018.pdf

It’s impossible to have confidence that our county is handling anything properly, the budget or Corona Virus.

But, there are solutions. A) stop construction in Coxsackie, now. B) Repar 80 Bridge Street and put the Sheriff back there, consistent with law, County Law § 216. C) convert the monster in Coxsackie to a legitimate medical/treatment facility. As such it can receive federal and state money.

If a pandemic doesn’t make it clear to those in charge here than perhaps our Courts will.

Welcome to the discussion.

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