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Carroll County law enforcement agencies report few issues enforcing executive orders

Although one man was issued a criminal summons and another was arrested as a result of separate incidents in Westminster this week, Carroll County’s law enforcement agencies have reported few problems in terms of enforcing the governor’s executive orders.

All are tracking and reporting to the state the number of calls for service on possible or actual violations related to restrictions imposed by Gov. Larry Hogan as part of Maryland’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

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Westminster Police Chief Thomas Ledwell said his department didn’t find any violations as a result of business-related complaints or reports of crowded residences. He did say Westminster police issued some temporary park ban notices to individuals who climbed over the barrier fences to the restricted areas of the parks.

Westminster has charged one man with a violation of the stay-at-home order who had been warned previously that day, the chief said.

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“We located the individual after 8 p.m. after receiving a third disorderly conduct complaint, and he was arrested for continued disorderly conduct, drug charges and violation of the order,” Ledwell said. “We have not experienced any issues with gatherings over 10 people. Everyone has been compliant.”

On Monday, Maryland State Police served a criminal summons for a Lutherville man who was charged after allegedly hosting a gathering of 10 teens at a Westminster hotel and purchasing alcohol for them.

However, Lt. Rebecca Bosley, commander of the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack, said via email Tuesday, “We have had a lot of cooperation from the community when they are asked to disperse. Once people are educated on the governor’s directive, they understand and comply.”

“We have seen a slight increase in calls regarding people perceiving violations, and we will go out to make sure there is no violation of the governor’s Order," Bosley said. "Also, the Maryland State Police continues an education platform, going to businesses to educate them on the newest orders.”

Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees said his office had also received calls for service about perceived violations that did not turn out to be a problem.

He used the example of an individual reporting that a restaurant was open against the state order. Deputies found that the restaurant was within bounds by offering carryout and delivery, but not in-house dining. Chiefs of police in other municipalities have reported similar situations.

So far there haven’t been any issues with deputies meeting resistance or rudeness from people while trying to enforce the executive order, according to DeWees.

“Our goal is not to arrest or charge, but to educate and ask for compliance. We’ve experienced great cooperation and very little resistance. I think overall everyone understands the seriousness of the health risks an wants to do their part,” he said.

Mount Airy Police Chief Doug Reitz said via email Wednesday: “We have not had a situation where we have had someone refuse to desist any unlawful violation of the governor’s executive orders. Most people are grateful that we have been checking on them and enforcing the executive orders.”

Hampstead Police Chief David Snyder of said the town has yet to have a violation.

“Our biggest challenge was trying to answer the public’s questions as each order came out,” he wrote in an email Wednesday. “We fielded numerous phone calls from people that were not sure what they needed to do to be in compliance. We answered as many questions as we could and dispelled a fair amount of rumors/misunderstanding. Some people we have talked to have been understandably upset. We may have spent more time on the phone than we typically did, however, sometimes people just need to talk to someone for a few minutes for a little reassurance.”

Manchester Police Chief John Hess said the town has had three violations, a business, a private residence and a group at the town’s skate park. “Officers were met with cooperation and all were abated with a verbal warning,” he said Wednesday. "People are out exercising, the churches and Tree of Friends are continuing to help our ones in need; but also paying close attention to social distancing. "

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Sykesville has also had to work keep people put of its skate park, said Chief Michael Spaulding. In addition to the governor’s orders, the parking lot is being repaved.

“Charges are pending against a group of five people who entered the park after temporary fencing and signs were placed advising that the park is closed,” he said via email Wednesday.

Taneytown’s police department had not responded to an email as of Wednesday evening.

Statewide, The Baltimore Sun reports that law enforcement agencies have responded to more than 400 calls for individuals violating Hogan’s order requiring residents to stay home, according to MSP.

Under the order, violators can face a $5,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

State police did not say Tuesday how many, if any, individuals were charged, just that law enforcement received 402 calls related to the order. State police have conducted nearly 6,600 business and crowd compliance checks since March 24.

State Police Superintendent Colonel Woodrow Jones III directed troopers not make traffic stops just to determine whether the driver’s travel was essential, officials said in a statement.

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