Police officials will not have authority to stop citizens to only inquire about 'essential travel'
There are many questions about how police will be enforcing the new Stay At Home order that came into effect early this morning.
Police representatives from across Ontario took part in a meeting yesterday to try and get a better understanding of what they can do under the order.
Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Jeff McGuire says officers need to have a reason to stop citizens.
"Yesterday I was answering a lot of questions about people fearing a Police State type situation. Are police cars going to be driving around and police officers stopping people walking down the sidewalk and demanding notes from their doctors or their employers? None of that is permissible and none of it is going to occur. Quite frankly, I think the police are relieved by that. The police chiefs and frontline officers don't want that power."
For example, drivers cannot be stopped simply for an officer to ask where they are going. "If an officer is going to stop a car, he has to have the authority that already exists under the Highway Traffic Act in order to do so." McGuire explains. "And even then, you have the opportunity to ask, 'Is this essential travel?' The person doesn't have to respond or tell you that. We don't have an authority."
Officers do have the authority to enforce restrictions within businesses and stores and to break up gatherings of people and issue fines.