Police bogged down by dozens of calls about social distancing violations

Published: Apr. 3, 2020 at 4:43 PM EDT
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(4/3/2020) - Genesee County 9-1-1 said since the coronavirus pandemic began, a majority of their calls have been quarantine inquiries -- from asking about symptoms to complaints about social distancing violations.

And, the Director said dispatchers are making sure to tell callers that police can't respond to those types of concerns.

But, that hasn't stopped people from then directly calling police departments.

The Genesee Township Police Chief understands people have more time on their hands; but he said, his officers don't have time for people to tattle tail on your neighbors.

“If we answer every single call here, we wouldn’t be doing anything else but just be running around,” Chief John Mullaly explained.

He said the Governor’s ‘stay safe,stay home’ order is causing people to become much more observant.

“Like the one guy said the other day, he said, ‘You know, they stopped sports and he finally figured out that the woman next to him was his wife because he hadn’t talked to her in so long because he’d always watched sports.’” Mullaly laughed.

All kidding aside, he said his department only has 3 to 4 officers on duty at a time. So, asking them to patrol for social distancing violations takes a hit to their resources.

“The PPE equipment that we’re getting right now is very short in supply and just to send 'em out on every single call, suited up to go to check on three people standing on the corner is kind of ridiculous at this point,” Mullaly said. “Now, if we see something, yeah we can stop, roll the window down, talk to 'em, tell 'em to leave or whatever.”

Plus, when you call to report your neighbors are outside or too many people are at the park, he said you're preventing them from responding to more serious calls.

“When you keep calling on something that’s really not relevant, you’re injuring the person that really might need somebody at one time,” he explained.

The Governor did just increase the fine for violating her 'stay safe, stay home' order to $1,000; but, the Chief said that mainly pertains to businesses.

“If we get a complaint and it does meet the criteria, what we would end up doing is we'd end up writing, taking a complaint, writing an appearance ticket and then that would go through the health department,” Mullaly explained.

That $1,000 fine won't be paid to them - the department using their resources; Chief Mullaly said the state gets the money.