Kane sheriff: Deputies need court order to enforce governor's orders
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said his deputies will need a court order before issuing a ticket or closing a business to enforce Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home directive.
Hain said Thursday there is no law that applies to violation of the governor's COVID-19 orders. Because deputies do not have legal immunity if they attempt enforcement, they will not take enforcement action against any one person or entity without an order from a local judge, he explained.
But he also urged people to follow government guidelines to slow the virus's spread and praised residents for their compliance and patience.
"This is not a time to test law enforcement or challenge the Governor's direction with blatant and egregious activity that may be harmful to society. It is a time to view this as a global health concern and to act in the best interest of your fellow citizens," read part of Hain's statement.
Hain said he wanted to clarify his position as the Northwest Bible Baptist Church, 9N889 Nesler Road, near Elgin, has said it will reopen Sunday for religious services.
"We've had so many inquiries as the public becomes more anxious about any potential extension of the governor's order, I felt it was important to make a blanket statement," he said.
Hain said he was concerned his department could be sued if it does act and noted U.S. Attorney General William Barr has said the U.S. Constitution has not been suspended because of the pandemic.
His announcement comes as counties and states grapple with a timetable to reopen businesses and restart the nation's economy. The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled the state's governor's stay-home orders were unconstitutional, giving the green light for bars to reopen without any social distancing protocols.
The Kendall County sheriff's office said this week that its deputies would not fine or arrest people who gather in large groups or target small businesses that violate social distancing guidelines.
Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon has said tickets and fines are a "last resort" to enforce stay-home orders and his office preferred to educate and engage in a dialogue.
But McMahon also said a business or entity that knowingly exposes its customers or employees to COVID-19 could be subject to charges of involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide if an outbreak results in a fatality.
His office said Thursday Hain's announcement has not changed its approach.
Hain said his deputies have transitioned to a more humanitarian role during the pandemic, helping deliver care packages to seniors in incorporated and unincorporated areas. He noted his office helped move some 170 people from the Aurora homeless shelter Hesed House into a hotel to self-quarantine.
He said the state's attorney's office would have to petition a local judge for a "closure order" before deputies would take action.
"We will not 'enforce' the executive orders. What we will do is absolutely everything in our power to help people understand and comply with the executive orders," Hain said. "This is not about law enforcement whatsoever. This is about a pandemic and strictly about public health."