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P.E.I. police forces partner with conservation officers to investigate coronavirus-related complaints

Charlottetown Police Chief Paul Smith said P.E.I. conservation officers are the lead investigators on complaints related to people not self-isolating during the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic.
Charlottetown Police Chief Paul Smith said P.E.I. conservation officers are the lead investigators on complaints related to people not self-isolating during the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic. - Dave Stewart/The Guardian
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

P.E.I.’s conservation officers are actively investigating coronavirus-related complaints of people not self-isolating.

Charlottetown police chief Paul Smith said people will often hear a variety of numbers thrown around in terms of how many complaints are being looked into. Many are repeat calls from the same person so, once everything has been weeded out, the actual number of complaints being investigated was 68 as of Wednesday.

Those complaints have come into the province’s health line, 1-800-958-6400, from Islanders who have reported someone they think is not following the rules and self-isolating. Conservation officers have taken the lead on investigations so municipal police forces can focus on regular business, but police will respond if needed and they are kept in the loop on regular conference calls.

Two charges were laid as of Friday.

A 38-year-old St. Edward woman was fined $1,000 for being in a gathering of more than five people who she didn't live with. RCMP responded to the call Thursday night in Miminegash.

A 27-year-old Summerside man was charged Tuesday for violating a public health order. The man had returned from another province and was supposed to be self-isolating. After being warned once, police and conservation officers attended the man’s residence to speak with him about self-isolating. Officers found the man walking on Water Street Street East. The man was warned again to self-isolate.

Sgt. Jason Blacquiere
Sgt. Jason Blacquiere

The next day police noticed the same man was a passenger in a vehicle on Granville Street. The vehicle was pulled over and the man was charged under the Public Health Act for failing to comply with an order of the chief public health officer. A first offence carries a fine of $1,000.

“He was warned and he was well aware of the consequences and continued to disobey so he was charged,’’ said Sgt. Jason Blacquiere of Summerside Police Services.

Smith said they haven’t had any issues like that in Charlottetown yet, although he did add officers have been reminding people of the physical distancing rules.

“Once somebody has reached out and told them (to self-isolate on physically distance) they are wise enough and get with the program,’’ Smith said.

Blacquiere said enforcement partners have been issuing verbal and written warnings since March 21 when Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, ordered people who had travelled back to the province to self-isolate for 14 days.

“We’ve been in regular contact with each other and trying to get everybody on the same page as to how we’re going to deal with things but the charge we laid (Tuesday) wasn’t in direct response to anything other than just the individual just blatantly chose to disregard Dr. Morrison’s orders,” Blacquiere said.


Twitter.com/DveStewart

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