MICHIGAN CITY — Almost as soon as Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his Stay at Home Order on Monday, people began questioning how police would handle the situation.
The order asks everyone to stay at home unless going to work for an essential business; going out for groceries, home supplies, carry-out food or medical equipment; checking on family and friends; or taking part in recreational walks and other outdoor activities while practicing “social distancing.”
In response to questions about how Michigan City Police would be handling the situation, the department issued a statement saying it would not be stopping cars and questioning pedestrians over the order, which took effect late Tuesday and runs through April 6.
The statement from Chief Dion Campbell explained that while state law gives law enforcement the authority to enforce the Stay at Home order – and makes it a Class B misdemeanor to violate it – the department will not “proactively” enforce it.
“Michigan City Police will be using a commonsense approach and operate from a position of community good faith while citizens are traveling for essential needs,” the chief said.
“However, our normal traffic enforcement efforts will continue during this stay at home order. This order was put in place to do everything necessary under the law to protect Hoosiers throughout the state!” Campbell said.
“If we can endure these inconveniences now, this will greatly reduce the amount of time we have to spend preventing the spread of COVID-19. MCPD would strongly encourage and greatly appreciate everyone’s cooperation with Gov. Holcomb’s order during this unprecedented time.”
La Porte Police Asst. Chief Nathan Thode issued a similar statement, saying officers “will not be stopping vehicles to check for compliance with the Governor’s order, however, they will be keeping a watchful eye for any criminal activity as they always have.
“No passes will be required from the public and we simply ask that all citizens comply with the orders and use common sense. We are all in this together and will come through it better as a community and stronger than ever. Please practice kindness and patience in these unusual and uncertain times.”
Late Monday, a Facebook post appeared which claimed Indiana State Police were preparing for a “martial law quarantine.”
In response, ISP said the post is total fiction.
“There is no truth or factual basis to the post...” a statement from the agency said. “Please continue to rely on reliable sources, to help dispel the multitude of rumors and inaccurate information. We are all in this together, and together we will get through this.
ISP troopers are “focused on serving the citizens of Indiana during the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes helping to mitigate the spread of the virus,” the statement said. “The Department’s response will focus on educating our citizens of the orders that are in place, directing them back to their home, the steps they can take to practice social distancing to keep their families healthy and providing appropriate avenues to seek additional information.
“If an extraordinary situation requires enforcement in order to protect public safety, the issuance of a citation or physical arrest may be the necessary course of action to be taken.”