Enforcing the stay-at-home order: UNews speaks with chief of KCPD

Adriana Macias

Last week, city governments all around the Kansas City area issued stay-at-home orders. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly followed suit yesterday, giving a stay-at-home order for the entire state. 

With the exception of essential work (such as healthcare and food) or essential activities (like getting groceries), residents are required to stay in the homes until at least April 24. In addition, groups of 10 or more continue to be banned.

According to the Kansas City government, a violation of the order—which is considered a misdemeanor—can result in fines of up to $500, six months jail time or business closures. 

As the scope of the coronavirus pandemic rapidly develops and new ordinances pop up in a multitude of jurisdictions everyday, the situation can become confusing. UNews spoke with KCPD Chief Richard Smith to get answers on how the police department will enforce the order.

 “The enforcement of this order doesn’t fall under the police department, first off,” said Chief Smith. “It will be more up to city entities like the fire marshal. We will not be stopping people to ask for papers.”

“We’re asking people to have some personal responsibility to stop the spread of the virus,” Smith said. “If we see restaurants violating the 10 or under limit or carryout-curbside pick-up, it could affect future licenses. It is not our goal as law enforcement to fine or jail. It is to keep the city safe.”

He emphasized that the police department will not be drastically changing the way it conducts business to pursue quarantine violators. “Just minor adjustments to calls we think can be handled by phone,” he said.

Smith also said the Missouri National Guard, which was activated by Gov. Mike Parsons last week, is not going to implement martial law.

Smith added that the coronavirus situation is new territory for the police department, as well as for Kansas Citians. 

“This is new to every first responder. New problems are coming out of this, and the information and problem solving is changing every day,” he said.

The police chief advised the public to remain cautious, as many rumors have easily spread in the fear and uncertainty of the present time. He urged those with questions to call 311 or to visit KCPD’s FAQ page. 

As a final note, the department is asking for donations of masks (even hand-made), gloves, and temporal scanner thermometers (those used on the forehead) for first responders to use during the pandemic. Donations will be accepted at any district station and are greatly appreciated.

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