Deputies, Police Will Disperse Groups After New Health Order

Mar 30, 2020, 5:18 PM | Updated: 9:03 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing the new health order that went into effect in the county, officials said.

The order shut down more businesses and asked people to stay home, citing the need to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. The last thing Sheriff Rosie Rivera said they plan to do is issue citations and make arrests, but people need to take the order seriously.

“In that public health order, it indicates that we have to enforce the order, so we will be enforcing the order,” said Sheriff Rivera. “We are going to ask kindly for people to comply. We are going to give warnings. We are going to disperse groups – anything we can to keep this in a situation where we don’t have to write citations.”

The new Salt Lake County Health Department order officially shut down businesses like hair salons, spas, tattoo shops, theaters, gyms and playgrounds.

The order said people should be practicing social distancing, are not allowed to congregate in groups of more than 10, and should to leave home only for essential services or work.

Much of what was ordered has already been in place, but the difference is sheriff’s deputies and police officers have the power to enforce it by a citation or by arrest.

Those arrested could face jail time and be charged with a class B misdemeanor.

“Our approach is going to be in a different way of normally enforcing something,” said Rivera.

Officials with the  Salt Lake City Police Department said they agreed with the sheriff’s approach. They said the order is not about throwing people in jail.

“No, we are not going to throw handcuffs on you if we drive by a park and see you swinging on a swing set,” said Sgt. Keith Horrocks.  

Instead, Sgt. Horrocks said their efforts will focus on working together as a community to put an end to the spread of the virus.

“We are peace officers first and foremost. That’s our title. Our job is to keep the peace. In a situation like this, we want to make sure we are working together to solve a big issue that we are facing,” said Horrocks.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we have to enforce things by writing citations and making arrest, but we are taking it serious. This is an order we have to follow,” said Rivera.

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Deputies, Police Will Disperse Groups After New Health Order