Illinois police face challenges enforcing stay-at-home order

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker is relying on local law enforcement officers to enforce his emergency stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois.

That has put officers in a difficult position.

“Even with 9/11, it wasn’t anything like this,” Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion said.

The stay-at-home order closed all non-essential businesses and requires people to stay at home except for trips to grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential activities.

“For the most part, our businesses have been pretty compliant,” Marion said. “If they do open, an officer will stop by and at this point, it’s about compliance.”

Marion said it was important people obey the stay-at-home order and police were more interested in getting people to follow the rules than issuing fines for breaking them.

“We will take enforcement action if necessary,” Marion said.

For police officers, some parts of the job put them in close proximity to other people and social distancing isn’t always possible.

“There are calls that we go on that we do not have that option,” Marion said. “We have to be in close contact. We have to be hands-on sometimes with people.”

Marion said he acted early to acquire personal protective equipment for his officers.

“That was one of my first steps that I did was to make sure that the officers are equipped,” he said.

While several front-line workers and first responders have tested positive for the coronavirus in Illinois – Marion said it hasn’t happened in his department yet.

The governor’s stay-at-home order is in place through the end of April.

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