(WJW) — The FOX 8 I TEAM has found many of you calling 911 to report kids and adults at playgrounds and parks concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. So we investigated how police are handling that.
Police video obtained by the I TEAM shows officers, in one case, rolling up to a local park finding kids playing basketball, women with children and more.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered playgrounds closed due to the spread of COVID-19. And no one should be gathering in groups. But police throughout Northeast Ohio are getting 911 calls.
One citizen reported, “I was just calling in regards to congregating on a playground in my development.”
Another reported, “The skate park…was closed off today, and there’s a bunch of kids there standing.”
Even on a cold Tuesday morning, we found adults at a park ignoring orders for social distancing.
Kent police tell us all of this puts officers in a tough spot. They don’t want to have to crack down on people of any age in places like parks at a time like this.
Lt. Michael Lewis said, “We understand a lot is being asked of people right now. We appreciate their cooperation. But, we need to help people understand the spirit of the Governor`s orders.”
The I TEAM wondered what if some group decided to take a stand? Maybe gather at a park and refuse to leave. Local police from multiple departments tell us they’ve talked about that. They could file charges under a law for ignoring a health department order, or they could send the case to a prosecutor to look at other charges.
Lt. Lewis added, “But that’s obviously going to be a last resort. We simply are hoping that people use good judgement and good common sense.”
Police say they try to resolve these kinds of complaints, first if possible, with a phone call, or a quick face-to-face conversation from a distance to limit any contact. Police we spoke with say they haven’t yet had to do more than that.
Clearly, this concern matters a lot more to some folks than others.
One 911 caller said she’d had words with an adult at a playground. The caller said,
“People are monitoring. This is a pandemic. She’s like, ‘I don’t work anyway, so I don’t really care.’”
The caller continued, “I said, ‘Well, I do work. And I can’t go back to work until people stop doing this.’”
The coronavirus causing tension in so many ways.