Police force works to maintain stay-at-home order

Ann Vettikkal | Staff Writer

Local police departments have been doing their part to ensure that Governor Mike DeWine’s “Stay at Home” order is obeyed.

Mike DeWine’s controversial and relatively early enactment of virtual quarantine began with the initial three week break for all Ohio Schools starting March 16th. Now, the order has caused national outlets such as the Washington Post begging the question: “Did Ohio get it right?” when confronted with notably lower cases and deaths in relation to the amount of the people tested. 

Chief Deputy Barry K. Riley is part of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office that patrols Deerfield Township. He said that the biggest role they have played regarding coronavirus is making sure people are informed of the situation and what staying safe actually entails. 

“Our main focus has been education, talking to people when they’re out, ensuring that they understand we made a conscious effort not to enforce the laws by issuing criminal citations unless it was a very egregious act,” Riley said. “So what that means is we’re enforcing the orders by educating people asking them to disband.” 

    In general, this order has been an easy one to enforce. Riley said that people are extremely understanding when asked to socially distance, even if they weren’t obeying the law at the start. 

“We are still fielding calls of people that may be out playing basketball and stuff, and we go and we talk to them and ask them to respect the orders and they do and they go their merry way,” Riley said. “But to say that we’ve had a large problem? The answer to that is no, we have not. Again, the citizens have been amazing.”

    If it is a business that is open, Riley said that their office has to refer the situation to another department.  

“A lot of the complaints that have come in have actually come in regarding businesses remaining open,” Riley said. “And we had a system in place where those complaints were referred to the Warren County Health Department. And in turn, they were using administrative sanctions — cease and desist letters and notices to get the businesses to close down If required.”

For what he’s been able to observe as a chief deputy, Riley said that this occurrence is unique. He has spent more than two decades in this field and feels like the consequences of this unprecedented event may not disappear in the near future.     

    “It is a new normal,” Riley said. “I think we’ll see the effects of this for quite some time. And I don’t think all of it’s necessarily bad. But I’ve been in this job for 24 years now. And I have never experienced anything quite like this.”

Photo by Ann Vettikkal.