Instead of enforcing California’s just-announced curfew, some Silicon Valley law enforcement agencies say they’ll take a cue from their counterparts in Fresno, Sacramento and elsewhere by trusting the public to voluntarily comply.
With Covid-19 cases reaching all-time highs, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued a month-long curfew, which takes effect Saturday and will require people to stay home from 10pm to 5am through Dec. 21. The mandate applies to all non-essential businesses and personal gatherings in virtually the entire state, including Santa Clara County.
Beyond citing a state law that “each health officer shall enforce all orders, rules and regulations concerning quarantine or isolation prescribed or directed by the department,” the order signed by Acting State Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan offers little guidance on how to get people to follow the new rule.
At a press conference explaining the curfew, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said there are “enforcement tools for local jurisdictions and even at the state level.” But he didn’t elaborate much beyond that.
“We’re really about pushing forward this public health message that we can do and taking these steps will allow us to do what we can to reduce transmission,” he added.
Sgt. Michael Low, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, said his agency expects “voluntary compliance from the community to follow all local and state orders issued by health officials to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“The curfew will be another tool our deputies can use to enforce the law,” he said. “However, our primary focus will be on more serious crimes in the community.”
Mountain View Police Department spokeswoman Katie Nelson said that “much like with previous state stay-at-home orders, and other county public health mandates, [MVPD] will continue to take an educational approach.”
San Jose Police Department spokesman Sgt. Christian Camarillo said his agency would take a similar tack instead of issuing citations.
“In addition, we will not be utilizing this curfew as probable cause to detain persons during the curfew hours,” he assured.
A town over, in Mission City, police plan to do the same.
“The Santa Clara Police Department encourages everyone to follow the state and local Covid-19 guidelines, especially with the rapid rise in cases,” Capt. Wahid Kazem said. “We intend to first take an educational approach with our community regarding adherence to the limited stay-at-homeorder, fully knowing that enforcement is an option to reduce opportunities for Covid-19 transmission.”
This story will be updated as more agencies respond to requests for comment.