COVID-19: NYC Quote of the Day 2020-08-05

Wednesday, August 5, 2020, NYC Mayor de Blasio, Sheriff Joseph Fucito - Random Checkpoints at Major Bridge and Tunnel Crossings

Mayor: Starting today, we will have checkpoints at key entry points to the city. Travelers coming in from those states will be given information about the quarantine, they will be reminded that it is required not optional. They'll be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of State law, and it comes with serious penalties. In fact, under certain circumstances, the fines can be as high as $10,000. So, this is serious stuff, and it's time for everyone to realize that if we're going to hold at this level of health and safety in this city and get better, we have to deal with the fact that the quarantine must be applied consistently to anyone who's traveled. And here to tell you about it, Sheriff Joe Fucito.

Sheriff: The Sheriff's Office, in coordination with other law enforcement agencies, will undertake quarantine checkpoints at major bridge and tunnel crossings into New York City. We need to ensure visitors and New Yorkers returning home are taking the necessary precautions to limit the spread of this disease. The entire team will strive to ensure that the deployment balances the critical public health and welfare needs of the residents of the city with the legal protections, entitled to all people. For further transparency, I wanted to go over the parameters of our actions. The primary purpose of the quarantine checkpoints are to address a legitimate public safety objective. Compliance with the quarantine is our objective and checkpoints are an effective means of ensuring travelers are on notice and can take precautions to protect our beloved city. Our team has developed a uniform procedure that will be applied to all New Yorkers. Procedures are in place to protect New Yorkers rights while limiting intrusions on the privacy of motorists.

Question: How are you identifying people in cars? Is it just going to be by license plate or are people going to be pulled over and asked for ID? How does that work?

Mayor: We do have two separate challenges. Folks who are visiting New York City, for whatever reasons, who live in one of those 35 states. And then the other problem is New Yorkers who go visit family or go visit friends or whatever in one of those 35 states.

Sheriff: I think it's important to note that we're not looking to target out-of-state residents. In fact, what we're looking to do is educate people who have spent time at COVID-19 hotspots, regardless of their residence. The only way to have an effective checkpoint is having a random component to it. The courts have looked at checkpoints for public safety reasons, for regulatory reasons, and that seems to be the standard that they're looking for to avoid discrimination. It is so many vehicles, let's say it's every sixth vehicle or every eighth vehicle. We determine something in the beginning of the day and we stick to that pattern throughout the day. And that is how the checkpoint would be conducted at different locations.

Question: Would it be then at random locations, or would you have them at locations regularly? Are you concerned that there'll be like a backup of traffic if you're doing this in the same place on a regular basis?

Mayor: We certainly do not want to back up traffic in a major way. And we are definitely talking about moving around locations, limited periods of time, but enough to both reach a lot of people and to send a powerful message to many, many more.

Sheriff: Of course, traffic is also an important component. We don't want to back up traffic when it's unnecessary. So, with the Sheriff's vehicles, many of them have license plate reader technology so we can identify a vehicle. Let's say it's the eighth vehicle that crosses the bridge and we identify that vehicle. And the deputies would conduct a stop, introduce themselves and explain the nature of the stop. And go into the information that they need to file and information they need to know about the quarantine when coming into New York. So, there is a random component and we're looking at a full-fledged checkpoint where it is viable. And we're also looking at individualized stops where we think it would be more suited to avoid having a traffic condition.
Edited for redundancy, grammar, and emphasis
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