As Ohio curfew begins tonight, local law enforcement says don’t call 911 for violators

Montgomery County Sheriff
Montgomery County Sheriff

Several area law enforcement agencies said they don’t want residents to call 911 when they see potential violations of Ohio’s new coronavirus curfew, which begins today and runs daily from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s order issuing a statewide curfew is an Ohio Department of Health-related order, the Montgomery County Sheriff Office said, and deputies will not actively search for those not complying with the mandate.

Montgomery County sheriff’s officials also tried to reassure the public that the department is ready to respond to any emergency situation.

ExploreCoronavirus: DeWine announces 21-day curfew starting Thursday

“Public safety continues to be our number one priority,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “The sheriff’s office will continue to provide a normal and timely response to any emergency situations.”

Dayton Police officials said residents are expected to comply with the curfew order.

“Our community navigated through a full stay-at-home order earlier this year. At that time we stressed that we look for and expect voluntary compliance with these type of orders and advisories, and we continue to ask the community for their cooperation,” the Dayton statement said.

Long lines formed at the old Montgomery County Fairgrounds site in Dayton for coronavirus testing Tuesday. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Long lines formed at the old Montgomery County Fairgrounds site in Dayton for coronavirus testing Tuesday. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Credit:

“If there are instances where people are not using appropriate judgment in adhering to the Ohio Department of Health statewide curfew or gathering limitations, our officers will advise them on how to properly follow the safety requirements,” the statement said. “Should there be egregious violations or repeat violations, we will take appropriate enforcement as needed.”

The governor’s order runs for the next three weeks. The governor said he believes that order will help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The curfew does not apply to people going to and from work, anyone getting groceries or picking up takeout, going to the hospital or picking up medicine, DeWine said. Violation of the curfew would be a second-degree misdemeanor, Dewine said.

However, police departments and sheriffs in the region have said they don’t have the manpower to enforce the governor’s curfew. For instance, in Butler County, Sheriff Richard Jones and Middletown Police Chief David Birk said they don’t expect their deputies and officers to enforce the curfew.

Jones urged residents not to call the sheriff’s office if they know of someone breaking the curfew, either.

Jones called the curfew “ridiculous” and he expects it to lead to a confrontation between police and upset residents somewhere in the state.

“This will lead to an arrest, and someone will get hurt or worse,” he said . “It will bring out the criminal in people who are not criminals.”

ExploreMontgomery County stay-at-home advisory approved through Dec. 17

Miami County Sheriff David Duchak told the Dayton Daily News that his office will not be enforcing the curfew.

“MCSO will not be enforcing any curfew or mask orders. Complaints will be referred to the Miami County Health Department during their business hours. It is a Health Dept. issue, not a law enforcement issue.“

In Mercer County, the sheriff’s office said in a social media post that coronavirus is serious and asked everyone to take precautions for themselves, the community and healthcare workers.

“Mercer County Sheriff’s deputies will not be making random traffic stops to determine if you are violating the curfew order. Our approach will remain as it has been during this pandemic. We will use good judgment and common sense. We will ask our citizens to do the same and to treat our local health department and health care workers with the appreciation they deserve as they serve our health needs,” the social post said.

Clark County Deputy Chief Jeff Meyer said that the sheriff’s office there is awaiting further guidance from the governor and has not decided how it will enforce the curfew yet.

It was slim pickings for the paper products at the Kroger at Springboro Pike and West Alex-Bell Rd. this week as residents worried about coronavirus restrictions. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
It was slim pickings for the paper products at the Kroger at Springboro Pike and West Alex-Bell Rd. this week as residents worried about coronavirus restrictions. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office has not issued any citations because of mask complaints, and deputies continue to educate the public about the health orders, the local sheriff’s office said. And while deputies won’t be actively seeking curfew breakers, the office did say that it will handle violations on a case-by-case basis.

“MCSO does encourage the wearing of masks and requests that residents be mindful of the health and safety of everyone around them,” the office’s statement said.

Staff writer Rick McCrabb contributed to this report.

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