Sheriff’s office prepared to enforce orders

By Catharin Shepard •

Staff writer •

The Hoke County Sheriff’s Office can enforce North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s mandates, Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said Monday, and deputies charged one person for failing to comply with a shutdown order that went into effect last week.

The governor earlier this month issued an executive order that shut down many businesses that could not guarantee at least six feet of space between customers. Movie theaters, barbershops, nail salons, bowling alleys and many other businesses were among those impacted. The order also specifically named electronic gaming/sweepstakes parlors and bingo halls in the list of businesses that were told to close.

The affected businesses were supposed to shut down by 5 p.m. March 25, but some sweepstakes parlors in Hoke ignored the order and stayed open, Peterkin said.

“It’s a health issue. People wouldn’t stop going to these places,” he said.

The sheriff posted a warning Friday on Facebook to tell the public that deputies were going out to shut down any open sweepstakes parlor or bingo hall. Anyone seen inside one of the businesses at the time would face charges, Peterkin said.

“This is not a drill!” Peterkin posted in all caps on his Facebook page.

Deputies did arrest one person on a charge of resisting, delaying or obstructing a law enforcement officer, the sheriff said.

The person is an employee at one of the sweepstakes parlors. Arrest details were not immediately available. The charge was a misdemeanor.

The sweepstakes businesses in Hoke have since closed their doors in compliance with the order, Peterkin said.

“We just need people not to be in places…anywhere that people can congregate. Folk have got to take this serious, whether it’s barbershops, salons,” he said.

With the governor’s stay-at-home order going into effect this week, local law enforcement agencies in Raeford and Hoke County have the authority to enforce that order as well. Violations can come with misdemeanor charges.

Peterkin said he hoped it wouldn’t be necessary to enforce the executive order.

“I just hope people don’t put us in that position,” he said Monday, the day the stay-at-home order was set to go into effect.

The sheriff’s office remains open to the public, but the agency started taking precautions several weeks ago to prepare deputies to be able to more safely do their job in the middle of the pandemic.

“We didn’t wait, we actually started equipping our guys with masks and gloves,” Peterkin said.

The office also took steps to reduce the amount of face-to-face contact deputies have with citizens where possible. They’re taking reports over the phone and have suspended fingerprinting at the office for now, the sheriff said. People can still do paperwork at the office and communicate with staff members through a window.

The detention officers at the Hoke County jail also made changes and took steps to help keep inmates and staff members safe. So far it’s worked out well for the law enforcement agency, Peterkin said.

“We’re doing quite well. I’m very pleased with the mentality that the officers and the detention officers have. They know this is what we have to do, people are depending on us to do this,” the sheriff said.

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