Local law enforcement officials reinforced much of the advice given out since Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order went into effect Monday at 5 p.m.
And to demonstrate their own compliance of social distancing, they met at the Statesville Soccer Complex on Thursday.
Iredell Sheriff Darren Campbell, Statesville Police Chief David Addison, North Carolina Highway Patrol First Sgt. Rusty Jones and Iredell Chief Probation and Parole Officer Dennis Goins met Thursday to talk about some of the misconceptions they’ve heard since Cooper’s order went into effect.
The roundtable of law enforcement officials was the brainchild of P.A.C.T. (Police and Community Together), a local advocacy group. Ron Wyatt, a retired law enforcement officer and member of P.A.C.T., was on hand to represent the group.
Addison said one of the biggest myths is that the 5 p.m. deadline Monday amounts to a curfew.
“There is not a curfew in North Carolina or in Iredell County,” he said.
He said the SPD is prepared to enforce Cooper’s edict banning gatherings of more than 10 people but its primary goal is voluntary compliance.
Thus far, he and Campbell said, most members of the public have been cooperative.
Addison said officers will likely stop vehicles that are out in the middle of the night.
“At 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and three or four people in a car,” he said, officers will most likely stop that vehicle. Addison said since most overnight businesses are currently closed the reasons for being out that time of night are limited.
“We are going to find out where you’re going,” he said.
Both Campbell and Addison addressed the issue of church services. Both said the drive-in type services some churches adopted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic are acceptable.
“As long you’re maintaining that social distancing, that’s fine,” Campbell said. Addison agreed and added that drive-in services are acceptable under the governor’s order. “You can listen to that word,” he said.
Jones addressed the issue of whether troopers will be stopping people for violating the governor’s order. He said troopers will only stop vehicles for offenses, not to check on the reasons they are on the road.
“We are out there for everybody’s safety,” he said.
Goins said the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way probation officers operate. Instead of probationers being required to report to the office, officers are now doing more field checks and using virtual methods of checking in with their probationers.
“We are still holding them accountable,” he said.
Campbell and Wyatt also talked about the operations of the court system. Campbell said that while some court sessions are postponed during the governor’s order, the Iredell County Clerk of Court’s office is still operating.
Wyatt, the Iredell County Register of Deeds, said fines can still be paid at the Hall of Justice but those fines can also be paid online.
Both recommended calling the Clerk of Court’s office before going in. “Do your homework,” Campbell said.
Campbell said his office is still processing concealed carry and gun permits. “Visit www.iredellsheriff.com and it will walk you through the process,” he said.
He said those wishing to spend the day on Lake Norman can do so.
“The boat landings are open and you can go out on your boats. You can’t go to an island on Lake Norman and have a big party,” Campbell said. “But you can go fishing all day long.”
Addison said this order and law enforcement’s reaction to it is not designed to be harsh. He said it is intended to slow the spread of the virus and to keep people safe. He asked for the public’s continued cooperation during this time.
“We cannot do it without your help,” he said.