Many across America have followed along with the social distancing guidelines made for stopping the spread of COVID-19. However, some remain in their ignorance and refuse to follow all of the guidelines necessary to defeat this “invisible enemy.” The longer it takes to get every single person on board, the longer we face the problem of not getting back to our lives. Now, cops are starting to go to the extreme and the last resort, which is arresting people who do not follow the orders.
In Charles County, Maryland, a man, Shawn Myers, was arrested for hosting a bonfire party at his residence, with 60 people in attendance. The sheriff department stated the arrest was made due to the intentional violations of the coronavirus emergency orders put in place by the Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan.
It was the second alleged violation in which police were called out to respond. Myers’ attorney did not comment to reporters other than stating he was held without bond.
Also over the weekend, a New York City bar owner and operator was arrested for going against the local executive order to close down and not have any gatherings. The owner intentionally opened the doors and allowed the people to gather.
All across the country, we hear stories of alleged violators who defy authority and care nothing of others’ safety. All of these people were warned, and they don’t listen. Now the sad part is, they will probably lose their licenses and have to shut down for good for not abiding.
Even the stories where we find a bar on one side and a church on the other about heaven and hell, Pastors are being arrested too. At the beginning of the week, Henrico County Sheriff’s Department arrested Pasto Rodney Howard-Browne in Tampa, Florida.
The pastor opened up the church to have services and was in complete violation of the social distancing order, which was put in place by Hillsborough County. The evidence was evident as the pastor held church services over live streaming with over ten people in gathering. A week before police arrested the pastor, he told everyone he was not going to close the church and stated, “closings were for pansies.”
A nonprofit law firm, Liberty Counsel, is representing Pastor Howard-Browne. They put out this statement, “The Hillsborough County administrative order has so many exceptions it looks like swiss cheese. Precautions were taken in the church, such as 6 ft distancing and a hospital-grade purification system. Howard-Browne was bailed out of jail overnight.”
Everyone is affected by social distancing rules and regulations. Police are saying even though they have to go to the extreme and make an arrest for violations, they prefer to use it as a last resort and have other ways to stop people from violating the mandates put in place.
Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, stated, “Police are going to use a great deal of discretion in these situations. Police are going to be very careful about stopping people. This is going to be advisory rather than, you know, locking people up. I can’t imagine a police chief wanting to use… their finite resources to cite people.”
International Association of Chiefs of Police President and Buffalo Grove, Ill Chief Steve Casstevens, said, “Arresting people in violation of the new orders is the last thing we want to do. I’ve been getting messages from many other law enforcement agencies that say, rather than making a physical arrest, they’re giving a summons or essentially a non-traffic ticket for a violation to give to people for a future time.”
Police Chief Edwin Roessler of Fairfax County, Virginia, told reporters from ABC News, “We will throw a call into the restaurant and, at the same time, visually try to observe the violation and get voluntary compliance and give them a warning. And we make a report of that, and the health department will get that warning, and they could follow up that call for service for the code violation with the code compliance team.”
Roessler added, “If for some reason, we are not getting compliance, it’s my understanding from being legally briefed that we would then use the health department and code compliance to then call an emergency on-call circuit court judge to then issue an injunction that’s immediate against the business. Then they would be electronically and verbally served with an order to shut down the business.”