Officials have shot down a rumour circulating on social media that Ontario Provincial Police officers were sitting in cruisers on Chemong Road and stopping drivers to check if they were complying with the new stay-at-home order in place.
A Facebook posting that was shared more than 1,500 times suggested OPP in unmarked and marked cars were set up along the road between Peterborough and Bridgenorth, pulling over vehicles with more than two people in them and performing random checks to make sure people were only travelling for essential purposes.
“We have received calls about an officer who was parked in a cruiser on Chemong Road Thursday morning,” Peterborough Police responded on Twitter on Thursday night.
“The officer was there as part of speed enforcement and using a speed measuring device. With regard to the Ontario orders, complaints will drive enforcement.”
During Friday’s virtual Peterborough Public Health press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith also denied it.
“Yesterday there was a speed trap on Chemong because the speed limit was reduced on one section of it — and people weren’t observing that,” Smith said.
“I did have the opportunity to speak to police yesterday about it. And they have assured me they have not pulled anyone over randomly to find out if their trip was essential — that people had been pulled over because they had been speeding. And that was the only reason they had been pulled over.”
Ontario’s stay-at-home order went into effect Thursday for the province but the government said police don’t have the authority to randomly stop residents on the street to make sure their trip is essential.
At Friday’s briefing, medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra similarly said Peterborough Police aren’t doing random stops for COVID compliance or the stay-at-home order.
“In addition, I’ve certainly heard from employees who are quite anxious about having to come to work because they are essential and they need to leave their homes,” Salvaterra said.
“Employers are not required to provide them with letters. And so employees do not need to have a letter saying they are essential workers. I think we can all take a breath and relax a bit about what this means as far as if you are having to leave the home and is it essential — you will not be stopped and quizzed about this.”
Smith said he has found no evidence that police across the province are stopping vehicles to confirm their trips are essential.
“What I have seen is misinterpretations of someone being pulled over because they were speeding. And someone else making the assumption they were being checked about why they were out,” Smith said.
Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com
Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner