State and Local Governments use Threats of Fines, Arrest, Lost Licenses to Bolster Containment Orders
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
Some state and local governments have decided to use scarce law enforcement resources to enforce social distancing.
According to news reports, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has warned those who insist on gathering in public will be “shut down” and “may be arrested.”
The Chicago Mayor said the city’s 2.7 million residents should stay inside, and that when they do go outdoors, it should be for a limited time only:
“You cannot go on long bike rides. Playgrounds are shut down. You must abide by the order. Outside, is for a brief respite, not for 5Ks. I can’t emphasize enough that we abide the rules.”
Lightfoot isn’t the only municipal official playing hardball.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said any business deemed non-essential, but still open to the public, will have its water and power turned off.
In New York City, law enforcement officials have visited thousands of local businesses to remind them of social distancing requirements. So far, there have been only a handful of enforcement actions:
In three cases, officials said, officers issued verbal warnings that the businesses were too crowded. Police also issued one summons in the Bronx for a person who failed to comply, and arrested two people in Queens for serving alcohol without a license, officials said.
Even in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott warned those who disregard social distancing and business closure orders “could face fines up to $1,000 and six months in jail.” Businesses that don’t comply could lose their operating licenses.
The demands local politicians have placed on frontline law enforcement clash with the new realities of policing: departments across the country are urging their officers to limit public contact.
Image Credit: By Jamelle Bouie [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons