Santa Cruz Police to Focus on Violators of Shelter Order

The Santa Cruz Police Department on Sunday announced its intention to actively enforce the city's shelter-in-place order when officers sees businesses or groups of people in violation.

The department says it generally relies on warnings, but is prepared to issue citations if it sees non-essential businesses violating the public health order to close or people outdoors in groups.

"We do not take this enforcement stance lightly," the department said in a news release. "The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious community health threat, and the Public Health Order is enforceable."

The department said education of the community about compliance with the order is its primary role and that most of the public is cooperating.

"Ideally, we would prefer to gain the public's cooperation and avoid unnecessary enforcement," said Police Chief Andrew Mills. "If we work together, we will accomplish the goal of keeping our community safe. "

The department said it is having officers check on closed businesses to ensure the locations are secure and deploying increased patrols, particularly at night, to protect against burglaries.

"Our command strategy is to implement 12-hour shifts to enhance officer availability," Mills said. "The added patrols increase the nighttime staffing numbers and will concentrate on retail and commercial areas of the city while responding to all calls for service."

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