Two Advisory Letters
Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association
Subject: PCPA in consultation with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association in response to Violations of the Governor's Order to Close
The PCPA has been in consultation with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association in response to the Governors’ order requiring non-life sustaining businesses to close. The following for guidance in the event that enforcement is necessary. We suggest that you consult with the District Attorney in your County for additional direction. This information has/will be communicated to each County District Attorney. Thank you for your service.
Violations of the Governor’s Order to Close
Physical Locations of All Non-Life Sustaining Businesses
In response to the Order of the Governor requiring non-life sustaining businesses to close effective 2000 hours on March 19, 2020, Members will likely be called upon to respond to complaints of businesses which are not compliant.
Compliance with the closure order is a necessary action to mitigate the continued spread of COVID-19 illness across the Commonwealth and enforcement of these orders is in accord with our public safety mission.
It is preferable that business owners comply without further urging. Those who refuse, however, create a potential public safety risk and it is incumbent upon us to take enforcement action; the goal of which is not punitive but to gain compliance. We have several options to gain compliance to include reinforcing the legal mandate to close including explanation of legal consequences; verbal warning; issuance of citations for violations; and seeking court orders to force closure.
Upon receipt of a complaint of a violation, Desk Unit personnel will obtain pertinent information regarding the business to include ownership, location, phone number, nature of the business activity, hours of operation, etc. PaCIC resources may be utilized to obtain this information if not immediately known. A query of RMS shall also be initiated to determine if a previous response to the premises/business was required. A CAD call type is being developed and is forthcoming.
Members shall verify whether the business meets the criteria as a “non-life sustaining business”. A list of these business categories may be found here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200319-Life-Sustaining-Business.pdf . Questions regarding specific business categories may be directed to the Incident Management Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
If a business meets the definition of a “non-life sustaining business” members will verify whether the business is in violation of the closure order and remains open to the public. If a determination is made that the business is in violation, contact shall be initiated with an individual vested with decision making authority for the business to include a proprietor, principal or manager of the business. That individual shall be advised of the requirements of the order issued by the Governor/Secretary of Health, and also to comply immediately. Members shall also convey that future failure to comply MAYresult in initiation of formal action.
If a business fails to comply and additional information is developed indicating the business remains open to the public, the business shall be warned that continued failure to comply WILL result in enforcement action. If a business continues to be non-compliant, enforcement action SHALL be initiated. The appropriate statutory citation is noted below. At this time, the appropriate charging section is unavailable in TraCS and BCIS is working with AOPC to ensure TraCS functionality becomes available.
If after a second citation is issued and a business fails to comply, consult with the Office of Chief Counsel, through channels, for further guidance.
The appropriate statutory citations will be: The Administrative Code of 1929, 71 P. S. § 1409; and the Disease Control and Prevention Act of 1955, 35 P.S. § 521.20(a).
The appropriate verbiage to include in the “Nature of Offense” Block (20) would be as follows:
“Pursuant to the Administrative Code of 1929, 71 P. S. § 1409, defendant failed to abide by the order of the Governor and the Secretary of Health, issued to control the spread of a communicable disease, requiring the closure of all non-life sustaining businesses as of 2000 hours on March 19, 2020. To wit, defendant caused or allowed (name business), a non-life sustaining business, to remain open after the date and time the order went into effect.”
“Pursuant to the Disease Control and Prevention Act of 1955, 35 P.S. § 521.20(a), defendant failed to abide by the order of the Governor and the Secretary of Health, issued to control the spread of a communicable disease, requiring the closure of all non-life sustaining businesses as of 2000 hours on March 19, 2020. To wit, defendant caused or allowed (name business), a non-life sustaining business, to remain open after the date and time the order went into effect.”
In the “Remarks” Block (58) members shall list date/time and person(s) to whom prior notification and warning was given.
Full Statutory References are noted below:
The Pennsylvania's Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955, 35 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 521.20(a):
Any person who violates any of the provisions of this act or any regulation shall, for each offense, upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding before any magistrate, alderman or justice of the peace in the county wherein the offense was committed, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25) and not more than three hundred dollars ($300), together with costs, and in default of payment of the fine and costs, to be imprisoned in the county jail for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.
The Administrative Code of 1929, 71 P. S. § 1409:
Every person who violates any order or regulation of the Department of Health, or who resists or interferes with any officer or agent thereof in the performance of his duties in accordance with the regulations and orders of the Department of Health, shall, upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding before a justice of the peace, alderman, or magistrate of the county wherein such violation or offense is committed, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than ten ($10.00) dollars and costs nor more than fifty ($50.00) dollars and costs, such fine to be paid to the county in which the violation or offense is committed. In default of payment of such fine and costs the offender shall be sentenced to be confined in the proper county jail for a period of thirty days.
Scott L. Bohn
Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association
Chester County District Attorney
Subject: CCHD Enforcement & PDA Guidance
As you know, Governor Wolf has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close effective immediately, with a deadline of 12:01 am Saturday March 21 for the commencement of enforcement procedures.
Attached is the latest order from the Governor regarding the Closure of All Businesses that are NOT Life Sustaining. This order will be enforceable through the Department of Agriculture -Bureau of Food Safety, the PA Dept. of Health, PSP and the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement as directed. The Governor’s order carved out an exception that a food inspector shall notify law enforcement if there is continued resistance after closure through the Dept. of Health. We are still waiting on direction for what that means.
In light of this direction, I do not advise that any Chester County police agency (other than the Pennsylvania State Police) prioritize enforcement of business closures. This is not the best use of our police resources at this time. It is our strong preference that police prioritize the enforcement of the criminal laws as they have always done. If your officers do see a business operating in violation of the Executive Order of the Governor and the Order of the Department of Health, you are free to report that violation to the above mentioned agencies.
I encourage your officers to continue to use their usual common sense and good judgment when enforcing the law and making arrest determinations during this health emergency. The public look to our law enforcement officers to inspire public confidence in a time where there is an understandable concern about panic.
And, finally we sincerely appreciate all of your service in this important time and recognize that you are being asked to put your own safety on the line to keep our citizens safe. We are most thankful.
Chester County District Attorney’s Office
201 West Market Street
West Chester, PA 19830