Suffolk sheriff's office won't enforce gatherings rules, says it wasn't 'included in preparation'

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday, sheriffs don't get the choice what laws they enforce.

News 12 Staff

Nov 21, 2020, 12:29 AM

Updated 1,277 days ago


Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on New Yorkers to limit the size of holiday gatherings -- but will it work? And will officials enforce those rules?
Cuomo has asked those in the state to limit gatherings in private homes to 10 people. The governor says his rules are similar to those set in other states.
But it has become increasingly clear those rules won't be easily enforced. Suffolk Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. joined upstate sheriff's departments in saying in a tweet that they "will not be participating in enforcement of Thanksgiving gatherings."
In a statement to News 12, the sheriff later clarified this is their stance because "enforcement requires some planning" and that his office was "not included in the preparation or the roll-out of the order".
Earlier this week, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said that county police would not be going door-to-door for compliance but said they would respond to complaints made by residents.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran says, "I think our residents have shown wonderful common sense throughout this pandemic and we're going to count on them to continue to use that common sense."
Nassau County Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro says legal issues also come into play. Law enforcement cannot enter a private home without the homeowner's permission or a search warrant.
"It will be difficult to gain access to someone's home, because without proper paperwork, you just can't open their door and walk in," he says.
Uttaro adds that a number of complaints so far have been unfounded -- either the violation isn't evident when they arrive, or it turns out to be what's described as a "vengeful complaint."
People who are caught violating the 10-person order could potentially face a fine for violating the public health law.

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