Is OR Gov. Brown right telling citizens to call police for COVID violations?
- As of November 23, there have been 12.6 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 262,907 reported deaths.
- On Friday, the US reported a record high of cases of 195,000.
- Governors across the US are putting restrictions in place before Thanksgiving to try to cap the surge in covid cases, many setting curfews, urging people to stay home, and requiring masks in more locations.
- Monday, Governor Kate Brown suggested Oregon residents call police on neighbors challenging coronavirus restrictions. The previous week, she set new restrictions of a two-week “freeze” limiting gatherings to six people.
For Covid-19 restrictions to be effective, they must be followed by everyone, and Oregon's Governor Kate Brown is right to use the police as enforcement. While it may make for uncomfortable relations between neighbors and businesses, stopping the disease's spread and saving lives must be the priority. Unfortunately, many people are just not capable of self-policing and following the restrictions. This has been particularly problematic on many college campuses, with students gathering in large groups without social distancing. If the police were called to break up these parties, the spread of the virus could be significantly reduced. It may not be cool, but calling the police to break up gatherings could help save lives.
Calling the police does not necessarily mean a huge increase in arrests or unnecessary legal action; in many cases, the police will simply move people on and remind them of the rules. This 'educational approach' doesn't need to be confrontational and can be an effective tool in slowing the virus. Finally, it is unfair for some individuals to closely follow the Covid-19 restrictions only to have it potentially ruined by others who think they don't need to cooperate. This is especially true since everyone must use some of the same facilities, such as grocery stores and other essential services. Rather than just sitting at home watching the neighbors have a potentially dangerous party, Governor Brown has given citizens the go-ahead to take action and get the police involved to stop risky behavior, just as they would for any other unsafe behavior.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown was wrong in saying that residents should call the police on large gatherings, per her recent executive order. The 'two-week freeze order' mandated by Gov. Brown restricts groups to 'no more than six people from no more than two households,' with violations of this costing up to $1,250, 30 days in jail, or both. This is slightly extreme, considering it is an arbitrary mandate based on some individuals' fear of the pandemic. Also, it will reportedly not apply to religious gatherings, so families should likewise be permitted to have their own private festivities if other groups are allowed exemption.
Governor Brown suggested reporting a gathering violation is comparable to calling the police about a noisy party. Yet, they are arguably different offenses, as a noise violation can be considered disruptive to others, while a private gathering harms no one. The recent order is also senseless from a public safety standpoint. If too many people attempt to police their neighbors by reporting them, law enforcement forces may be stretched too thin to address actual crime in the community. Brown has been criticized for putting the freeze order in place now when she failed to address real dangers associated with recent violent protests.
The freeze has been labeled unconstitutional in that it makes 'Oregonians 'second-rate slaves' in their own homes.' It is hard to disagree with this claim, considering that one's own neighbors could have them arrested for simply celebrating a family holiday with loved ones. The holiday season is for just this, so reporting instances of gatherings is cruel towards the spirit of the season and those who value its traditions.