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Governor tasks law enforcement with dispersing gatherings

Governor Kim Reynolds issued guidance this week to law enforcement to enforce her orders limiting non-essential public gatherings.

Webster City Police Chief Shiloh Mork said under state code, law enforcement is responsible for enforcing executive orders and declarations. That was true even before the governor officially tasked law enforcement to uphold the ban on gatherings.

“It really hasn’t changed much with our daily operation,” Mork said. “It does add more for our already limited resources to accomplish, but we are working through it.”

Mork said his department’s approach is to first educate people that the officers find in groups of 10 or more and ask them to disperse.

“So far that’s been well received and has worked well for us,” he said. “In the event we have a complaint or officers observe the same people that have already been educated or warned, we have the option to issue them a court summons to appear on a simple misdemeanor offense.”

Mork said so far, his officers haven’t had to issue any court summons. The majority of issues with groups of 10 or more have been in parking lots and basketball courts, though he added there have been fewer instances occurring.

“We understand the hardships that the restrictions are putting on people. The police officers don’t want to issue summons, they want to educate the public and solve the problem,” Mork said. “Those of us in public safety – police, fire and EMS – are also concerned about exposures and bringing it home to our families. The public’s cooperation in ensuring everyone’s safety is paramount.”

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