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Some complaints, but no citations issued for gatherings

When I drove home from work last Friday night, I saw what looked like a group of people gathered at a parking lot on Riverside Avenue. It made me wonder, have police received many complaints about gatherings now that we’re all supposed to be social distancing?

— Robert, Medford

Local law enforcement agencies say they haven’t had to spend a tremendous amount of time enforcing crowd sizes since the beginning of the governor’s Stay Home, Save Lives order.

Since the beginning of March, Medford police have received about 18 calls related to gatherings and social distancing concerns, according to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.

The number is an estimate because Medford’s crime-tracking database doesn’t have a category just for social distancing, so crowd-related incidents had to be sorted out from multiple possible categories, according to Budreau. The number doesn’t include the handful of complaints the Medford city manager’s office and Jackson County officials have received.

Budreau said an officer would rather get “voluntary compliance” from a person who was in violation of social distancing rules than issue a citation, according to Budreau. And that’s assuming the officer actually sees a violation when they get on scene. In some instances, the crowd has dispersed by the time police get on scene. Other times, what looks like a social distancing violation from afar isn’t actually a violation.

As of April 29, no citations had been issued through Medford police or the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, according to Budreau and Jackson County Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Moran.

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