San Jose officials asks residents to report ‘stay at home’ violations
San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia and Mayor Sam Liccardo encourage residents to report people who don't comply with 'stay-at-home' orders amid coronavirus pandemic.

If you see your neighbor or a business violating the “stay at home” order that now applies to all of California, the San Jose Police Department wants you to call 311.

On Friday, San Jose Chief of Police Eddie Garcia along with Mayor Sam Liccardo said the police department saw 56 violations of the order on Thursday alone. They’re encouraging residents who see someone or some company breaking the rules of the “stay at home” order to pick up the phone and make a report.

“I will again say please, do not call 911 with these issues,” Garcia said. “Call 311 and we are going to deal with those like we deal with any other call for service.”

The order, which is enforceable by law, was issued by county officials on Monday, and reaffirmed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday.

It asks the public to shelter in place, unless they need to do “essential” tasks, like picking up food, medicine, going to the bank or laundromat, working at an “essential” business or caring for family or pets. When residents are outside, top health officials have asked that everyone not living together remain about six feet apart from other people to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

And while some instances of businesses remaining open this week were blatant examples of eschewing the law — like a local billiards hall that was operating on Thursday — many companies have had simple misunderstandings or confusion about whether they are allowed to remain open, Garcia said.

Officers have taken an “educational approach” with businesses, but that “education is going to turn into enforcement very soon,” Garcia said.

On Thursday, Newsom took a similarly vague tone when discussing how his new statewide “stay at home” order would be enforced, leaning heavily on social and peer pressure.

“We will have social pressure and that will encourage people to do the right thing,” the governor said during a livestream.

Liccardo said San Joseans should not consider it “snitching” if they report a violation, like a large gathering or a business that’s not deemed “essential” opening their doors.

“It has always been the case that the police department has depended on the eyes and ears of the public,” the mayor said.

San Jose city leaders and the police department have also promised that officers would not assume San Joseans are breaking the law just because they aren’t inside their homes. Indeed, there are many legitimate reasons Californians may still need to leave their homes, Garcia acknowledged.

“It was very important to me that our community members knew that police officers weren’t going to be using this as a means of simple detention,” he said.

Follow along with San José Spotlight’s real-time coronavirus coverage on our LIVE BLOG here.

Contact Janice Bitters at janice@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.

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