AUSTIN, Texas — People on social media have asked a lot of questions about how local law enforcement agencies plan to enforce the shelter-in-place orders for Austin, Travis County and Williamson County.
Each of the orders allows police officers and sheriff’s deputies to issue fines up to $1,000 or a sentence of up to 180 days in jail.
KVUE reached out to the major law enforcement agencies within those jurisdictions, including the police departments of Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Leander, Pflugerville, Manor, Georgetown and Lakeway and the sheriff’s departments of Travis and Williamson counties.
Although a few agencies have yet to provide a response about their plans, most told KVUE they plan to focus on educating people about the orders, not issuing tickets or putting anyone in jail.
Here are the responses KVUE has received:
Austin Police Department
“The City seeks to inform and assist members of the community in obtaining compliance with this Order.
City of Austin Public Assembly Code Enforcement (PACE) teams and Code Compliance Officers will respond to 3-1-1 complaints, confirm whether there is a violation, and provide education. The Order does allow for enforcement, which can include a fine not to exceed $1,000 or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days. APD officers will not be stopping people driving cars to confirm that folks are on their way to an essential activity.
If a person suspects that the order is being violated, that can be reported directly to Austin 3-1-1.”
Round Rock Police Department
“We are focusing on the educational aspect of this right now, while we continue our daily work of keeping the community safe. We hope and expect that Round Rock residents will comply with the County order to Stay Home, Stay Safe. [If someone is violating this order] please call our 24/7 non-emergency line at 512-218-5500. Our operators will ask questions to determine if Officers need to be dispatched or if it is a matter for other departments.”
Pflugerville Police Department
“We’re working with our regional law enforcement partners and the community to educate everyone on the importance of staying home and seeking compliance. This effort is going to take the whole community’s understanding and patience as we make sure the people of Pflugerville, and our first responders, are safe during this public health crisis. We will get through it but it’s going to take all of us working together.”
Georgetown Police Department
“This is an unprecedented community, county, and state-wide effort to protect the public. We hope everyone will do their part and voluntarily adhere to all of the provisions outlined in the order. These measures have been put into place for our collective health, welfare, and community care.
As the situation continues to develop and change rapidly, we are not discussing specific enforcement measures, but will handle situations on a case by case basis with the immediate goal of providing education and gaining voluntary compliance.”
Manor Police Department
“We have had discussions and given direction to our patrol officers. What we are hoping for is that our community recognizes the importance of abiding by these rules and protecting themselves, their families and our community. Should we be placed into a situation where enforcement is necessary we will take appropriate action(s), but we will not be out stopping people in their cars just to inquire their destination or purpose. What we want is a healthy & safe community and the only way to achieve that is working together to end the spreading of COVID-19.
Should someone suspect that a violation is occurring, they should report it. Our response will be determined on a case-by-case basis after evaluation by on-duty supervisor.”
Lakeway Police Department
“We will work on educating the community first and move to further steps if necessary.
If someone suspects that someone else is violating the order, should that be a matter for 9-1-1? Is that a call Lakeway PD officers would respond to? If someone is concerned there is a potential violation, they can call the Lakeway Police Department at (512) 261-2800 (our main police line).”
This story will be updated as KVUE receives more responses.
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