Law enforcement contends with social distancing, NY on PAUSE violators in Finger Lakes

Who is actually enforcing social distancing protocols? In particular, those directed under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order signed earlier this month.

While law enforcement has received sporadic reports of those violating social distancing protocols, they aren’t actually the ones left to respond if violators are identified.

Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson told the Finger Lakes Times that if deputies see a business or people not complying – they remind them of the mandate. Then, if there is a direct violation – in form of a business operating that should not – code enforcement is notified.

“For people to interpret how long or how close people are in a particular setting is objective, and the length of time people are in an establishment is challenging,” Henderson told the FLT. “Everyone is attempting to deal with this pandemic, which is unprecedented, and we encourage all to adhere to the governor’s directive. We all know now is the time to support each other, those businesses that are essential, and those that can provide food and products, to help us through this challenging time.”

Geneva Police Chief Mike Passalacqua said officers will deal with groups that have gathered, and ensure that they disperse, but that it’s largely educational.

“We will respond and disperse groups, and educate them on why they should be conforming to the governor’s directive. The goal is education,” Passalacqua told the FLT. “The last thing any of us want to do is have someone face a civil penalty or fine during these times, when so many have no income and have been laid off due to this pandemic.”

Meanwhile in Wayne County, Sheriff Virts said his deputies are referring those who violate the PAUSE order to state licensing authority.

Seneca County Sheriff Tim Luce told the FLT that it’s challenging to navigate. “I guess you have to pick and choose your battles … and you better make sure the DA (district attorney) will back you up if you make an arrest,” he said to the Times. “We haven’t had to do this yet, and hopefully we won’t.”


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