Jenks police will encourage citizens to stay home under new ordinance
The new ‘shelter in place’ ordinance approved by the Jenks City Council Sunday will allow Jenks Police to enforce social distancing.
Jenks City Council approved ordinance No. 1511, which orders its citizens to “shelter at their residences except to conduct essential activities or to operate essential businesses; imposing social distancing; closing city-owned park facilities but not open spaces; prohibiting social gatherings with anyone outside of the household; requiring self-quarantine of anyone who tests positive to COVID-19 and their household; revoking all special event permits through April 16, 2020; providing a penalty; and declaring an emergency.”
Jenks police will now be patrolling the city looking to break up groups gathering with people outside of their place of residence.
Chief of Police Cameron Arthur says this ordinance is necessary to ensure the safety of the community.
“I don’t see this new initiative and city ordinance really affecting the way we patrol, the way we police, they way we do any enforcement,” he said. “It will give us the tools necessary, if necessary, to strongly encourage, say, the teenagers that might be congregating together in groups, that are not in their sole family unit. That’s what this is geared up to do, is to keep people at home as much as they can.”
If officers see a group gathering, they are using it as an educational opportunity to explain the risks and dangers of gathering with people outside the place of residence.
Arthur says he expects Jenks citizens to follow the new rules, however, if a person resists, they could face a fine.
“I just don’t see that (writing tickets) necessary because I think Jenks is a great community and once they know what the rules are, I think they’ll abide by those rules,” Arthur said. “If someone says, ‘I’m not willing to disperse,’ the officers certainly have the ability to write a ticket. I just don’t see that happening.”
The new ordinance does not imply that citizens must remain in their homes throughout the duration of the day.
Going to parks for exercise or time outside is still permitted. Meeting with people or gathering with others outside of the residence is not.
“They can still get out and do outdoor activities,” Arthur said. “Hiking, biking, running, walking. As long as they’re doing it by themselves, with their significant other, with their parents, that same household unit.
“I think that’s the only way we’re going to really get a handle on this and flatten that curve.”
Enforcing this ordinance can be tough to understand for some who believe police shouldn’t infringe on freedoms. Arthur said that’s a battle they’ve been waging for a while.
“We’re always trying to balance that being cautious and not heavy handed, but at the same time, with the least amount of intrusion on somebody’s rights and liberties,” Arthur said. “We really value that here. We don’t want to infringe on your right to do.”
The ordinance will go into effect 11:59 p.m. Monday.