ALBION — Police may support the idea behind Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order which went into effect Wednesday, but enforcing it?
That’s another issue altogether.
“We’re not enforcing that,” Noble County Sheriff Max Weber said. “We don’t have the authority to enforce who is essential.”
Holcomb’s order had a laundry list of exemptions from the stay-at-home order, including those headed to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, essential places of employment and those assisting others.
“We have not taken any enforcement action,” Kendallville Police Chief Rob Wiley said. “There are legitimately many options for people to be out.
“You can’t just stop people and say, ‘Where are you going?’”
“The governor has given so many loopholes there’s nothing to enforce,” LaGrange County Sheriff Jeff Campos said. “It’s impossible to enforce.”Campos said his department is fielding calls from people reporting alleged violators, but legally who is a violator and who isn’t is difficult to determine.
“The governor has tied our hands,” Campos said. “Do I sound disgruntled? I am.”
Campos said people’s refusal to follow the governor’s directive will only make the spread of the virus that much more dangerous.
“I know it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Campos said.
Wiley said his officers currently are not participating in grant programs which involve extra patrols and multiple traffic stops per shift. The Kendallville Police Department is trying to reduce its officers’ exposure to people who may be sick.
Kendallville officers have been provided with masks and gloves.
“We want to protect our officers as much as we can,” Wiley said.
Campos said his department has also changed some of its procedures, trying to limit contact with a potentially sick public whenever possible.
Wiley said, for the most part, people seem to be adhering to the governor’s order.
“There’s been a noticeable decrease in traffic,” Wiley said, with calls for service nearly cut in half.
That doesn’t mean police work has come to a standstill.
“We’re still taking calls,” Weber said. “We’re getting burglaries and theft” reports.
Despite a recent slowdown in warrant services due to the virus and not wanting to risk bringing an infected person into the jail, Noble County officers did execute an arrest warrant on a flight-risk offender.
The same is true in Kendallville.
“We’re certainly responding to calls for service,” Wiley said.