Local law enforcement adjusting to new restrictions

Robert Maharry and Seth McDuffee
The Grundy Register
GRUNDY COUNTY- In light of the recent “Level 10 threat” designation from Governor Kim Reynolds, additional travel and gathering restrictions have been imposed on the northeast Iowa region that includes Grundy County as a means of combatting the COVID-19 outbreak. So far, however, local law enforcement agencies are seeking to promote education over heavy-handed responses. 
According to Sheriff Rick Penning, there were no citations or arrests related to the coronavirus restrictions over the weekend, although the office has received complaints—including gatherings at golf courses and individuals walking in public with non-family members. The office has been working with businesses to ensure compliance. 
He also refuted rumors that deputies are pulling over drivers to check for papers that prove their jobs are essential, a practice that has been employed in other areas of the country. 
“Those are unfounded reports… That’s not going on in Grundy County at this point,” Penning said. “Anything is possible, but we hope that the public abides by the governor’s proclamation and the department of public health’s rules, and we can get through it a lot quicker.”
The outbreak has forced sheriff’s sales to be postponed, and while law enforcement is still performing its normal duties and making arrests when necessary, officers are taking extra precautions to ensure safety with regard to crimes against property and traffic stops. Court cases have also been continued until at least the end of May. 
“It’s a situation we’ve never experienced,” Penning said.
In Grundy Center proper, Police Chief Doug Frost explained their process on the new normal.
He said that they are taking the necessary precautions to continue proper social distancing and safety. Including medical calls, which Frost explained that they will still assist with, and depending on the level of emergency, they will wait for medical services to arrive while keeping proper protocol. However, he also indicated that more severe issues will require less space.
“If it’s a life and death emergency, we will still assist,” he said.
Chief Frost indicated that while people are calling a little more with non-emergency information, that serious calls were still about average. 
He said that it has been difficult for some people to adjust, because of major changes to services. Additionally, businesses and now city parks are closed to pedestrian traffic, but Frost said that fortunately they haven’t had any major issues.
There are still some key components to ensuring the safety of yourself and others, however, which Frost said were important to perform.
“Continue social distancing,” he said, “if you have face masks, wear them. With the weather getting nicer, make sure you’re only gathering with family members or roommates. Use common sense with what guidelines have been put in place to keep people safe.” Frost said that he’s seeing a lot more businesses adhering to these measures as well.
“We’re abiding by the Governor’s proclamations,” Frost said, “for the most part, people [in Grundy Center] are doing a good job.”


The Grundy Register

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