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Police focus on education, not enforcement, for people who violate governor's proclamation

People gathered along First Avenue in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, April 25, 2020. Police said that they are aiming to educate potential violators of Gov. Kim Reynolds' public health emergency proclamations, rather than using enforcement tools, as a first option. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)
People gathered along First Avenue in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, April 25, 2020. Police said that they are aiming to educate potential violators of Gov. Kim Reynolds' public health emergency proclamations, rather than using enforcement tools, as a first option. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 9:01 PM CDT
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Gov. Kim Reynolds is allowing for 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties to partially open back up but those hit the hardest, like Linn County, will still be under governor’s public health emergency proclamation.

That didn’t stop people from gathering this weekend to watch a classic car show, violating the governor’s order of only gathering with people you live with.

“Honestly, we were just out doing yard work and he’s had one friend stopover and it transpired to your friend stopping over and seeing us outside,” Terri Calinsky-Kacena, of Cedar Rapids, said.

Calinsky-Kacena was one of the people who hosted the get together this weekend. She said the number of people was never more than 15, and they tried to social distance.

“We had chairs and they were spread out through the yard about six feet apart," Calinsky-Kacena said. "Nobody was within proximity of one another."

Police can issue citations to people who violate the order but said they are going to start with education and warnings.

“The majority of citizens have been compliant with the Proclamation,” Greg Buelow, spokesperson for the Cedar Rapids Police Department, said. “Officers have attempted to educate and issue warnings, if necessary. This is more about doing the right thing for public health and preventing the spread of illness than law enforcement.”

It’s a message they’ve carried since the start of the closures for people and businesses. Police Chief Wayne Jerman addressed the issue at a press conference in early April.

“We’ve only had a small number of businesses that officers were able to use education rather than enforcement to obtain voluntary compliance,” Jerman said.

Police said seven citations have been given out for violating the public health proclamation. All of those are for knowingly going to Bever Park to watch or participate in a fight. They said if someone who has previously been issued a warning is found to be non-compliant with the proclamation again, then a ticket would be considered.

While Calinsky-Kacena is expecting another cruise this weekend, she said she doesn’t plan to have as many people gathering on her front lawn to avoid a ticket, making neighbors mad, and to help slow the spread of the virus.

“We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls if we are going to be out this weekend," Calinsky-Kacena said. "If we do I’m not going to allow more than 10 people. I’m going to keep it very minimal, very small."

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