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ELPD responds to 8 large gathering violations; city warns returning students of consequences

August 27, 2020
<p>An East Lansing police car is pictured on July 6th, 2017.</p>

An East Lansing police car is pictured on July 6th, 2017.

Photo by Jon Famurewa | The State News

After Ingham County Health Department limited outdoor gatherings to 25 people, ELPD has responded to eight violations of the order as of Thursday, according to Interim Chief Steve Gonzalez.

Gonzalez could not confirm if the gatherings included MSU students. However, the order is aimed at areas that previously hosted large house parties, including much of downtown East Lansing around the north edge of campus.

All of the violations were first time offenses, which Gonzalez said are met with an educational approach.

"If someone has a gathering that exceeds the limit ... officers will respond and they'll notify them of their violation, just essentially a verbal warning," Gonzalez said. "And give them a chance to comply."

First-time offenders will likely avoid a misdemeanor charge; however, officers may take action based on existing ordinances, such as noise violations, unlawful parties and nuisance parties, according to Gonzalez.

The city of East Lansing issued a release Wednesday warning Spartans they could face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $200 for disregarding the order.

ELPD will be tracking repeat offenders and refer those to the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office for review, Gonzalez said.

"We don't make that determination," Gonzalez said. "It's important to point out that the prosecutor's office would make that final determination whether or not they issue any charges."

In a statement from the city, returning students are also reminded that indoor gatherings are restricted to 10 people from different households per a statewide order. Violation of this order could result in a misdemeanor as well.

The city is working with MSU officials and will report off-campus student violations to the university, according to the statement. Students who violate either order could face consequences, including expulsion.

"We realize for a lot of returning students, they've been gone for not just the summer, but a lot of people left back in March," Gonzalez said. "They simply may not be aware that this order exists."

As a result, Gonzalez said city officials are working toward educating all returning residents on current guidelines.

"We want people to come back to ... East Lansing and kind of get their lives back on track when it comes to their education, but we also want people to do this safely," Gonzalez said. "The whole point of these efforts (is) to try and mitigate against any large virus outbreaks."

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