Chatham-Kent Police Service Chief Gary Conn says while the recent parades and convoys held in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic are appreciated, they violate social distancing guidelines.
“Over the past six weeks we (police) have taken a graduated approach with an emphasis towards education in respect to the numerous orders which have come into effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) due to COVID–19,” Chief Conn said in a written statement sent to the Sydenham Current.
“Subsequently, there have been a few parades for numerous reasons including, birthdays, celebrations of life and recognizing Emergency First Responders.”
Conn said during these “extra-ordinary times” the Chatham-Kent Police Service appreciate that local citizens wish to help and mitigate the challenges associated to this pandemic in some form or fashion.
“One of those ways is through these convoys/parades,” Chief Conn said.
“That being said, although we (Emergency First Responders) appreciate the gesture and recognition, exhibited via these convoys/parades, the reality is our citizens are going about it the wrong way and placing us (police) and themselves in a real precarious position by facilitating the breaching of an order under the EMCPA.”
Conn said the order is “quite clear” and prohibits organized public events including a parade.
“The social gathering prior to the event starting (rally points) and on occasion reports/complaints received in regards to people gathering at participants houses after said parades/convoys, require further dispersal by Police and By-Law Enforcement,” Conn said.
“Finally, those people organizing these parades/convoys, take on an element of liability associated to such events. We (police) have also received traffic complaints, that some participants of these events, fail to obey the rules of the road as stipulated under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). Road safety is a priority for our Police Service and as a result, we must ensure that everyone travelling through our community remains safe.”
Conn said in wanting to accept these events in principle and in the spirit for which they were developed, there are other numerous ways to accomplish this without breaching any laws.
“As an alternative to showing your support this can be accomplished through all social media platforms for police, fire, EMS and CKHA,” Conn said.
“Creating videos as a new alternative way of displaying their appreciation would be just as equally welcomed and encouraged, while remaining at home, where we can all remain safe and healthy as we battle through this pandemic and weather the storm.”