State Police Outlines Home Order Enforcement Approach

OCEAN CITY — While state officials continue to assert education and outreach are still the preferred method of enforcing Governor Larry Hogan’s latest stay-at-home directive issued on Monday, the Maryland State Police (MSP) on Tuesday issued some guidelines for when other enforcement efforts will be initiated.

On Monday, Hogan announced a new executive order urging all Marylanders to stay at home, except for those employed in designated essential businesses or to go out for essential supplies including food. It’s important to note those essential businesses include grocery stores, gas and convenience stores and carryout or delivery restaurants.

Essentially, the new executive order does not represent a major departure from where the state was on Monday and where it is on Tuesday in terms of the stay-at-home directive. Instead, the new executive order changes the state’s position of suggesting Marylanders stay at home whenever possible to urging it and even ordering it in some cases.

As a result, Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Woodrow Jones III has directed troopers to continue their public education and enforcement efforts regarding the governor’s executive order. On Monday night, Jones issued specific instructions regarding the stay-at-home order.

For example, enforcement of Hogan’s expanded executive order will be conducted by MSP troopers. However, troopers will not make traffic stops simply to ask drivers where they are going to determine if their travel is essential or not. However, if in the course of the regular performance of his or her duties, such as a crash investigation or a traffic stop, a trooper determines the individual was engaged in non-essential travel, enforcement action can be taken in consultation with the state’s attorney’s office in that jurisdiction.

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While it is not necessary for drivers in Maryland to have documentation about the purpose of their travel, having such documentation may help resolve questions. Troopers will continue to initiate enforcement action when a business or a group of more than 10 people is observed in violation of the governor’s executive order.

The executive order does not prohibit people from going to the store to get groceries or prescriptions, seeking medical attention at an urgent care facility or getting cleaning or laundry supplies or other necessities. In addition, the order does not prohibit people from going out to get needed supplies for pets or other livestock.

The order allows for travel to care for a family member, friend, pets etc. Citizens are also permitted to travel for transporting family, friends, pets or livestock for essential health and safety activities. The order also allows for travel to and from educational institutions to receive meals or instructional materials for distance learning.

The order also allows for outdoor exercise activities, as long as they are done in accordance with social distancing guidelines and are done in crowds of 10 people or less. However, recreational activities may not be done at a public park that has been closed by state or local government. Finally, restaurants can be visited if individuals are obtaining food for carryout or drive-through only.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.