Tighter enforcement of public health orders by Sacramento County police agencies after sideshows, large gatherings

Following a number of incidents that are contrary to social distancing and shelter-in-place orders in the Public Health Order that went into effect on March 20, Sacramento County law enforcement agencies will take a more assertive role in compliance efforts. While the sheriff's department and municipal police departments have taken an education-based stance, following some specific incidents, citations and possible arrests will now be issued as needed.

The decision to step-up compliance follows a so-called sideshow car racing incident last Sunday in unincorporated south Sacramento County that drew between 150 and 200 vehicles. As California Highway Patrol officers were attempting to disperse the gathering, one motorist fleeing the scene struck a CHP patrol unit.

Additionally, police have responded to several large parties over the last week in violation of guidelines. Because of this, in addition to citing appropriate vehicle code and penal code violations, law enforcement agencies throughout the Sacramento region will begin conducting enforcement on reoccurring or blatant violations of this Health Order.

“We know that the vast majority of our community will continue to comply with the Public Health Order, and an educational approach will still be effective,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said. “This move towards limited enforcement addresses those that blatantly put the community at risk by engaging in obvious violations of the Public Health Order.”

While education continues to be the primary focus, law enforcement agencies in Sacramento County will now also take enforcement action on violations of the Public Health Order that clearly poses risks to communities. This includes the cities of Sacramento, Elk Grove, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Galt, Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County Parks Police, Fulton-El Camino Parks, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

“It is important for folks to understand that all of Sacramento law enforcement is united in our desire to keep our communities safe, and in our willingness to enforce the order against unreasonable violations,” Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said. 

Health and Safety Code 120295 states that violating either a state or a local isolation order constitutes a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine between $50 and $1,000. Each day of violation is a separate offense with jail and/or a fine between $50 and $1,000.

Government Code 8665 provides that anyone who violates, refuses, or willfully neglects to obey any lawful order or regulation during a State of Emergency is guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalty for a violation of this code is up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

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