N.J. authorities cracking down on emergency order violations, 3 teens charged in Jersey City

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Law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey are cracking down on people violating emergency orders that prevent public gathering and non-essential businesses from opening during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Attorney General Gurbir Grewal highlighting one incident in Jersey City where three teens were charged.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Our police officers are going above and beyond the call of duty during this health crisis. Unfortunately, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the orders put in place to protect us all— or what is more egregious, people falsely using the coronavirus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work,” Grewal said in a statement.

“Staying home and maintaining social distance is not just good advice to stay healthy, it’s the law. Make no mistake, we will do what it takes to keep our residents and police officers safe, and that means we won’t hesitate to file criminal charges against those who violate the emergency orders.”

Listing two dozen incidents that occurred between March 12th and today, in locations including Lakewood, Belleville, and Hazlet, the AG’s office indicated that three Jersey City juveniles were charged with low-level offenses after loitering outside an apartment building on March 24th.

“Three juveniles were charged with defiant trespass, failure to disperse, and disorderly persons offenses related to the emergency orders,” the agency said.

Jersey City officials could not immediately be reached for further comment on Friday evening.

The Jersey City Police Department, in conjunction with the municipal prosecutor’s office, have said previously that they will be enforcing regulations imposed due to the public health emergency.

“Once again, New Jersey citizens are facing a crisis with unwavering resolve, fortitude and perseverance, because the vast majority of our residents and businesses are complying with Governor Murphy’s executive order, which must be strictly adhered to in order to prevent community spread of COVID-19,” added Col. Patrick Callahan, the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

On Saturday, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced a stay-at-home order, superseding all previous local directives, that closed all non-essential businesses and curbed public gatherings.

In the past week, he has stressed that enforcement would become more stringent as people continue to violate the rules in place statewide.

“Our social distancing directives are not polite suggestions. They’ve been ordered to protect the greater public health and safety, and to give us a better chance of slowing the spread of #COVID19. We will enforce these,” the governor wrote on Twitter.