HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ – Howell Township Police Department Chief Andrew Kudrick said residents on Thanksgiving don’t have to fear roving police patrols looking in their windows to enforce Governor Phil Murphy’s ban on large Thanksgiving dinners, but asked residents to be familiar with the executive order and to not put police into the position of having to break up huge parties that are egregious in their violations.
“We are in difficult times. Our community is hurting. We have seen an increase in mental health issues. People are depressed and stressed. Businesses are trying to survive. Some have already closed,” Kudrick said. “The holidays and social gatherings bring family and friends together. The latest order restricts the number of persons permitted within households and restaurants.”
Kudrick said his comments are in no way to be taken as defiance of the Governor’s orders, but said he doesn’t want to insert his police officers into complaints about social distancing and mask-wearing violations and thus the department will no longer respond to those calls.
Governor Phil Murphy did not take kindly to Kudrick’s position.
“I don’t know who this guy is,” Murphy said of Chief Kudrick. “It’s the obligation of all law enforcement to enforce the laws and executive orders that are in place.”
Chief Kudrick noted that Howell residents have so far done a great job enforcing themselves when it comes to COVID-19.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, we have relied upon our community to be responsible by limiting exposure and spread of this virus. This will continue without our enforcement intervention,” Kudrick said. “However, we the police will not be used to carry out orders I feel are detrimental to our relationship with our community. Or, will put officers in a no-win predicament such as being called for a social distancing or mask complaint. Although justified in our enforcement, the perception will be the opposite, and majority support will be lacking.”
Murphy and his fellow Democrats have marched in support of defunding police and having social workers handle non-violent crimes instead of putting an armed police officer in the middle of a situation that is essentially a civil matter. Now, Murphy is calling on police to insert themselves into a healthcare scenario where no crimes have been committed or clear victims and perpetrators established.
Kudrick said he encourages all residents to know and understand the Governor’s executive order.
“I do believe we all have to do our part to end this pandemic,” Kudrick said. “The only time we will consider a response would be for an egregious violation such as a packed house party. If these restrictions are exempt for political purposes, then family and friends should be permitted to gather with equal consideration.”
Murphy disagreed, saying Executive Order violations are egregious violations against the state, law and order that put lives at risk, perhaps far more than the risks of setting thousands of convicted criminals free from the state prison system. Grandma not wearing a mask is a much more serious concern than setting a convicted sexual predator or violent criminal free from prison on an early COVID-19 release.
“This not some minor infraction, these executive orders are about saving peoples’ lives,” Murphy said.