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.