Chatham County Police issuing citations to violators of emergency declaration

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CHATHAM CO. (WSAV) – Chatham County Police Department (CCPD) says boaters on the county’s barrier islands are ignoring orders from the board of commissioners to practice social distancing.

Earlier this week, the department announced there will be legal repercussions for people who ignore Chatham County’s emergency declaration.

Marine Patrol officers –who Chatham County Police Department Chief Jeffrey Hadley says will be around more often — can issue citations to people who act defiantly and against what police instruct them to do.

“We haven’t shut down the boat ramps, but you have to have less than 10 people on the boat. You can’t congregate on barrier islands like you may have once before,” said Chief Hadley. “Just honor that so we don’t have to be the bad guy.”

Chatham County Police say they have not yet issued any citations to people violating the emergency declaration. Business owners are included: they were instructed last week to reduce capacity.

Chief Hadley says crime is down in Chatham County, but it is too early to tell if it has anything to do with the coronavirus, sheltering in place or social distancing.

“It’s a good thing in that [officers] are not having as much contact,” said Chief Hadley.

Last week, crime statistics show there were three violent crimes and 21 property crimes in Chatham County Police Department’s jurisdiction.

Officers are making their own adjustments: holding roll call in the parking lot and staying back from people when they respond to a crime or incident.

Chief Hadley says the department is learning along the way, but he is proud of how his staff is handling something so unprecedented.

“They’ve been fantastic. They’ve stepped up to the plate, maintained their composure and done the best they can under the circumstances,” said Chief Hadley.

Minor incidents and incidents that do not require an officer can be reported through the phone. CCPD’s main line is 912) 652-6920.

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