Police Chief Talks Enforcing ‘Stay At Home’, Protecting Officers
ST. CLOUD -- A few days into Governor Tim Walz's Stay At Home order St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson says we're doing well following the rules. He says based on traffic patterns and just seeing fewer people out and about it looks like folks are sticking close to home.
I saw people out in the parks, walking the trails, but observing the social distancing. I want that to continue.
Anderson says his department and the Mayor's office have received a few calls from concerned citizens about groups gathering.
We go out and check those areas and to this point, none of us have been able to find large groups of people in any of our parks or other public places.
And, as for private places like your backyard, Anderson says it's certainly not okay to have a gathering there either.
A willful violation of the order in Minnesota comes with the penalties of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail or up to $1,000 in fines.
Police officers are striking a balance between protecting the public and protecting themselves during the coronavirus pandemic. Anderson says they have changed protocols on some of their calls, especially medical calls.
We're doing all we can to limit the exposure so that we keep a steady flow of healthy officers on the street to respond to those calls.
Anderson says there are times when they'll ask people to come outside if they're able.
Meanwhile, there has been some concern from first responders on a state level about protecting workers from COVID-19. State Representative Dan Wolgamott of St. Cloud has asked Governor Tim Walz for an executive order addressing the Minnesota Worker's Compensation Law making sure the virus is covered. Anderson says he's had conversations with city leaders and believes his officers are covered.
We're doing all we can to make sure we look after our folks if-and-when that awful day comes if some of them get exposed or heaven forbid get sick, so I'm not worried about those kinds of issues.
As for whether crime is down overall during this period, Anderson says it's too soon to tell, but they have begun to track those numbers.