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Police: Stay-home order isn't a crackdown

Though disobeying the state's stay-home order is a second-degree misdemeanor, local police are expecting few tickets and arrests.
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YOUNGSTOWN — Though state public health emergency powers give the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office the authority to enforce the governor’s stay-home order, which took effect Monday, Sheriff Jerry Greene said deputies likely won’t be cracking down.

“In Mahoning County, we’re not going to be out aggressively. We are not going to be randomly pulling people over,” he said Monday. “We understand there are essential reasons people need to leave their homes.”

However, Greene said deputies will be watching for groups of people congregating in public or nonessential businesses that remain open. Under Ohio Revised Code, disobeying the order is a second-degree misdemeanor.

“We don’t want to strong-arm anybody with this. We’re relatively confident most people are going to follow this order,” he said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office on Sunday held a teleconference with representatives from more than 50 sheriff’s offices across the state, spelling out essential police duties while the order is in effect.

“It is constantly changing. Everything we’re doing is changing. We’re doing our best right now to keep our officers safe and keep our jail virus-free,” Greene said.

Boardman officers haven’t noticed much of a change in the township’s commercial center since the order took effect, said police Chief Todd Werth. However, there’s no way to know why people are still going out — they could be driving to and from work or stores, he said — as officers aren’t stopping vehicles.

Though Boardman police are responding to increased phone complaints of perceived violations of the state order, they haven’t reported circumstances that were against the law. Werth urged the public to read and better understand the kind of activity that’s still allowed under the 12-page state order.

“They’ll understand the streets aren’t going to be deserted. People are still going to and from work, to and from doctor appointments — they’re still doing essential tasks,” he said.

Mahoning Matters readers have asked how child custody agreements would work while the stay-home order remains in effect. DeWine during his Monday briefing didn’t offer any clear ruling, but said “we would hope, since this is an emergency, both parties would take that into consideration and work in the interest of that child.”

Justin Dennis

About the Author: Justin Dennis

Justin Dennis has been on the beat since 2011, covering crime, courts and public education. Dennis grew up in Poland and Salem and studied journalism and communications at Cleveland State University and University of Pittsburgh.
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