Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Wilmington Police launch ‘Community Compliance Unit’ to help educate residents on stay-home order [Free read]

Police are on scene where a juvenile was shot on Wednesday (Port City Daily/Courtesy WPD)
The Wilmington Police Department has created a new unit to help with compliance-related concerns during the stay-home order. (Port City Daily/Courtesy WPD)

WILMINGTON — Enforcing Governor Cooper’s stay home order is going to be a challenge for police departments across the state. Essential business versus nonessential, legitimate outings or joyrides to get out of the house — it’s not always black and white — that is why the Wilmington Police Department is launching a Community Compliance Unit to address these issues.

“The Wilmington Police Department has launched a Community Compliance Unit to address complaints and or inquiries regarding the Governor’s newest Executive Order instituting stay at home restrictions for North Carolina residents. The unit — staffed with four officers and one supervisor — will help to educate business owners and residents about the order’s restrictions and exemptions. Unit officers will work closely with the city’s legal department investigating complaints assigned through the 911 Center,” according to a WPD press release.

Interim Police Chief Donny Williams acknowledged that there is going to be confusion during these times and while citations are not the end goal of the unit, officers will be able to do so.

“There are a lot of questions about the order and some confusion,  therefore we want to make sure everyone is well informed and in compliance,” Williams said. “While our number one goal is for the safety and well-being of our community, our officers have been directed to cite individuals when all other measures to ensure order and compliance have been exhausted.”

The governor’s order went into effect on Monday and will last at least 30 days for all N.C. residents. New Hanover County issued its own restrictions, which clarified and went beyond the state-level order. On Monday morning, Wilmington city council voted to ‘consent’ to the county’s additional restrictions. The motion was symbolic: unless the city was going to challenge the county in court (which is currently closed for most proceedings), Wilmington and its residents must abide by both county and state regulations.

“This week, the Wilmington City Council joined area municipalities in adopting additional restrictions to prevent spread of COVID-19, going beyond Gov. Cooper’s statewide order. These additional restrictions incorporate the Governor’s Order and also include the following closures: 

  • Closure of playgrounds, team sport facilities, and public gardens.  
  • Closure of all public amusement places (whether publicly or privately owned or operated) where people may gather, indoors or outdoors. This includes children’s play centers, recreation centers, country clubs, social clubs, and more. Golf courses are restricted to allowing walking golfers or one golfer per cart to maintain social distance requirements. 
  • Closure of non-essential retail, including indoor or outdoor shopping malls, and retail facilities that do not provide goods that are essential for health, sustenance, shelter, mobility, and hygiene. Delivery and curb-side service at all retail establishments may be continued. This restriction does not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, hardware and building supply stores, or gas stations.   
  • Closure of specific merchants, specifically: auto dealerships, boat dealerships and other motor vehicle sales points (not including repair or maintenance services), hotels, motels, and short-term lodging (except as allowed by a governmental request to assist with the emergency response to Coronavirus), retail or “captain” stores situated at marinas. 
  • Closure of inside carry-out food service that requires the customer to enter the interior of the merchant’s facility.  Delivery, drive-through and curb-side food service is allowed” according to the release.

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