In a case of compare and contrast in how police officers have been directed to enforce governor’s orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, police in Hawaii have issued at least 353 citations, while officers in Utah have reportedly issued zero (as far as we know).
So far, Honolulu Police Department said it has issued 4,660 warnings and 353 citations for emergency law violations. HPD said there were also 26 arrests that were connected to traffic or criminal offenses. Most of the warnings and citations were issued at beach parks. HPD reports that the department hasn’t arrested anyone for a quarantine violation, Star Advisor reported.
Gov. David Ige issued a stay-at-home order for the state on March 23. It is in effect until April 30.
Violation of the rules during a state of emergency is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and one-year imprisonment.
The department said three HPD officers tested positive for COVID-19 out of 59 HPD officers who were tested. Ten tests are pending.
Citations for other jurisdictions in Hawaii are unknown.
Meanwhile, local police departments in Utah are working to keep people safe from the coronavirus, but they’re trying to keep their enforcement of health orders low key.
“Our directive has been to educate the public when we see violations,” said Sgt. Clayton Swenson of the Sandy Police Department. “When we see people on playgrounds and things like that, we’re encouraging them to stay home and practice social distancing. But we’re not issuing citations or formal warnings.”
Orders in Salt Lake City and six Utah counties prohibit residents from congregating, along with other restrictions, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The Unified Police Department has issued no citations, “just warnings,” said Sgt. Melody Gray. A total of nine, as of midday on Monday, for “an array of things. Gatherings of a lot of people. Neighbors having parties. Food delivery violations — people leaning into cars to pick up food. That sort of thing. We just want people to stay safe.”
That’s the goal for all local departments. Salt Lake City Police have had to break up a few gatherings, “but we’re going into it assuming they haven’t heard the order,” said Sgt. Keith Horrocks. “We explain it to them, and people have been compliant.
“Our directive from the chief’s office has been not to issue citations, but to rely on education.”