Local News

Fullerton Police Downplay Enforcement of COVID-19 Restrictions

The Fullerton Police Department has announced that it will continue to “take an education-first approach with regard to orders imposed by the State.” This approach is consistent with that taken by the department since the first mask order was imposed by the City, followed by the State, in May. FPD Public Information Officer Cpl. Billy Phu is confident that the FPD’s approach has “been successful in gaining voluntary compliance from businesses as well as individual community members.”

FPD statement posted on social media December 6.

“In cases where we are unable to garner the compliance, Fullerton PD would document the violation(s) and forward the incident(s) to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for prosecutorial consideration,” Cpl. Phu said. The department, which has closed its own front desk to visitors to help prevent transmission of COVID and protect its employees, does file reports in instances where their education approach has “not gained voluntary compliance.”

California currently mandates the wearing of effective face coverings in public situations, and has imposed a regional order affecting businesses and public facilities, and requires residents to stay in their homes between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. with exceptions made for work and other essential needs. A statement from the FPD issued on Dec. 6, the day the Regional Stay-at-Home Order was set to take effect, states that, “Fullerton Police Officers respond to a myriad of calls and many of those calls will take priority over reporters based solely on potential face-covering, gathering-only, and business restriction violations.”

Mayor Bruce Whitaker, who represents the City’s Fourth District, supports FPD Chief Dunn’s direction calling it “well considered,” and does not support imposing fines for people refusing to comply with State COVID-19 prevention rules, telling the Observer that, “The Council has a role in balancing the ever-changing rules, requirements, and regulations from Sacramento with providing some possibilities for local businesses to survive this hostile climate and implacable threat.”

Newly-elected First District Council member Fred Jung disagrees with Mayor Whitaker saying that, “Mask mandates have been shown to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus. And if adding fines gives gravity to that fact, it should certainly be looked into because there are lives at risk.” He noted that “Costa Mesa did pass a mask mandate and added a fine and because of nearly non-existent enforcement, it took months before a violator was even fined at all.”

In a possible reference to previous Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, Jung also said that it was not helpful when a member of the previous City Council politicized the mask mandate, making it “about individual choice/freedom and not public health.” Bruce Whitaker also voted against a city mask mandate earlier this year prior to California adopting one statewide.

Jung also said, “The guidelines and messaging from the County versus the State throughout this pandemic have been inconsistent and confusing to the general public.” The County Board of Supervisors recently adopted a resolution advocating for greater local control over COVID-19 management, and several members of the BOS have been very vocal about their disagreements with Gov. Newsom’s approach to fighting the spread of the virus.

Council members Ahmad Zahra, Jesus Silva, and Mayor Pro Tem Nick Dunlap did not respond to the Observer’s requests for comment on the issue.

Elsewhere in OC, the city of Santa Ana has established a compliance hotline to report COVID-19 business violations, large parties, and people ignoring social distancing rules and/or not wearing face coverings. According to the OC Register, complaints to the Santa Ana line will be referred “to various agencies as needed, including code enforcement and police.”

The State’s COVID-19 website warns that, “Failure to comply with the order may be punishable by fine and as a misdemeanor, revocation of a business license, or court-imposed penalties,” but does not specify who would bring such charges against violators. Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes has declared outright that enforcement of COVID-19 orders is not the job of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. In interviews, he has questioned the constitutionality of the State’s orders and called them arbitrary. He claims that in other states enforcement of mask rules ended badly.

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5 replies »

  1. The police should not have to play babby sitter. If we can’t get the county shelters to enforce CDC guidlines and set the example, the county has no business coming down of people. The Melrose shelter waa warned. The city of Placentia was called and no one did anything to ensure enforcement. Now, they are testing positive left and righr and placing positive.tested people at the hangers on the closed Marine base. Since 2017 to 2019 homelessness has increase 46 percent. The Mc Kinnny Act states that Federal properties that remain unysed are to make homelessness a priority! There are over 1500 homes that could be retrofitted and our housing crises would end. We can hire those people who want to work or who are physically capable. This in addition to taking supportive services on-site. The hospital on Fairview sites dormant. Yet, Orange County has been repeatedly reproched foe stockpiling MHSA funds and refusing to spend it to alleviate the issue, willingly and knowingly placing the citizens of this county and indeed the countrt at risk! Demand that the county enforce laws and legislation as written and as intended. When they built the Melrise shelter less than 500 feet away men with construction experiance looked on while people unable to speak English work to build the shelter, in spite of the law calling for them.to hire the demographic the was built to serve.

    This must end. It is placing us all at risk.

  2. What sort example is this when sheriff’s defy enforcing the governor’s orders. Is that not considered insubordination. Who is the boss?
    To defend your freedom of choice to wear masks or isolate when people are dying is despicable completely self-absorbed behavior. We are blessed to live in this great country with so many benefits in the time of crisis yet we have the highest infection rates. We should all be ashamed of ourselves.

  3. @Loyd Glen
    We should be ashamed of ourselves or the morons we’ve put into office. This is exactly what our police and sheriff should be doing. Standing up to our politicians and their “do as I say not as I do” policy is exactly why following the science is our best and safest bet. The news stories of our state officials should be enough to tell you that they don’t have any idea or care or to what they are doing and they will continue to do whatever they want as long as they have the power to do so. We have King Newsom and Auntie Pelosi to protect us while he has $1200 per plate dinners, she has a $12,000 freezer filled with $12 ice cream, and neither have apparently ever missed a salon day or a paycheck. We are definitely not in this together with them.
    This virus is not as horrible as the media or politicians claim I know several people who have had it, and they all lived. The true death and infection rate have been exaggerated daily by faulty reporting and poor common sense. People who test positive are counted for every positive test, and you need to take several tests before you can be cleared to come back to work. So do the math. You wonder how our infection rate can be so high against other countries? Doesn’t that seem off to you?
    Additionally, shame on you for your post. There are so many people unable to work because of these nonsensical orders, people unable to feed their families, pay rent or bills, and they are the ones who depend on being able to work in any capacity that they can. Our children are suffering from a shoddy education system, poor teaching practices, and lack of social interaction with other children and all that is not based on real science. Pelosi drug her feet on getting people relief because of her hatred for Trump and only when Biden won was she willing to compromise? Closing down outdoor dining is not based on science anymore than being forced to wear a mask if you are healthy is not a violation to our civil liberties which this virus has made us forget their importance.

  4. @Bob I know that it won’t matter what anyone says, so you should go look for yourself. Go take a look at the local hospitals and the tents full of people in the parking lots. Then you can let us all know if those beds are filled with sick people or are they empty because everyone just got over it. If you go look for yourself you don’t have to believe anything that anyone else is telling you. But do be careful driving around, just in case some of it might be true. I would hate for you to get into an accident and there not be an ambulance available to come help you or no hospital beds left for you.
    When you go take a look please let us know if it’s faulty reporting or not. I do have to warn you that no matter what you report back, some people will say you’re exaggerating and it’s just more faulty reporting! So maybe, just maybe it’s time for us all to err on the side of caution and consider that there just might be people that know more about this stuff than we do. You know, just in case it’s not all exaggerated faulty reporting!

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