Reports of a large party or wedding taking place in Rockland County over the weekend led County Executive Ed Day and local police to take action amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The incident took place during the day on Sunday, March 22, at a home in Wesley Hills, where a wedding was reportedly taking place with at least 100 people attending in violation of an executive order banning large gatherings.
The more stringent New York State "PAUSE" policy went into effect at 8 p.m. Sunday. Under this policy, non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason have been ordered to be canceled or postponed.
Day said he was contacted by a number of people about the event.
After receiving additional complaints, due to no action being taken by Ramapo Police, Day said he called Chief Brad Weidel and "emphasized the need for immediate police action as necessary."
Day said the state emergency order was being violated and officers on the scene could charge offenders with obstruction of governmental administration and disorderly conduct.
"I am told that the officers requested that the people disperse and they refused," Day said. "So now there is an expectation that two civilian employees from the Health Department are supposed to force the issue with 100-plus people when professional law enforcement officers seemingly are ordered not to do so? Ridiculous."
Day received more than 500 comments on Facebook after the post appeared with many upset over the large gathering during the growing COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Ramapo Police said on Facebook there were not more than 50 people on the scene that would violate the order.
Police returned to the scene and again did not "observe more than 50 persons at the residence."
They also checked with neighbors and reporters on site and confirmed their findings.
Day said after he learned the group had not dispersed, he left a message with the governor’s office demanding that the town immediately enforce the emergency orders and if they don’t they should immediately send in the state police who are under the governor’s direct command.
A short time later, Day reported he received a call from Weidel reporting the crowing was less than 50 people, despite reports and the group was dispensing.
"I want to thank everyone who reached out to me advising me of this incident," Day said. "You all are our 'eyes and ears' out in our community and your effort is genuinely appreciated by your county executive and the people of our great county."
Police said, "while it is not our job to enforce social 'responsibility,' it is our responsibility to enforce the law. In this case, no probable cause existed to effect an arrest."
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