RECORDS: League City police respond to nearly 100 calls of stay-at-home violators in three weeks

During the three weeks League City police had the authority to fine residents and business owners who violated the state's stay-at-home order, police responded to nearly 100 calls, records show. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
During the three weeks League City police had the authority to fine residents and business owners who violated the state's stay-at-home order, police responded to nearly 100 calls, records show. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

During the three weeks League City police had the authority to fine residents and business owners who violated the state's stay-at-home order, police responded to nearly 100 calls, records show. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)


During the three weeks League City police had the authority to fine residents and business owners who violated the state's stay-at-home order, police responded to nearly 100 calls, records show.

Despite the volume of reports, no residents—including multiple offenders—were fined or arrested, said John Griffith, the public information officer for the department.

On March 24, League City City Council passed an ordinance that allowed police to fine residents up to $2,000 if they violated the state and county’s stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus outbreak. On April 14, the council did not vote to extend the ordinance, ending police officer's authority to fine residents.

"There have not been any arrests or fines," Griffith wrote in an email to Community Impact Newspaper after the ordinance ended. "People encountered have been understanding and compliant."

However, police records show not everyone was completely compliant.
Some businesses were told multiple times they could not allow customers inside, and police found over 100 residents gathering parks on at least two occasions.


On April 9, police were called with a report that people were playing soccer at Walter Hall Park. Police found at least 100 people at the park doing different activities, but they were minding social distancing rules, so police did not take action, according to a record.

The next day, police responded to another call of people playing soccer at the park. Again, police found people at the park, but none were seen violating social distancing rules, another report reads.

In all, reports of people gathering at Walter Hall Park account for 11 of the 94 total calls police received related to violations of stay-at-home orders, according to the records.

After hearing about the large gatherings at the park, Mayor Pat Hallisey on April 11 ordered all city parks to close indefinitely. The order did not include Walter Hall Park, which is a county park in League City limits. Parks reopened after the council did not vote to extend the ordinance and local disaster declaration April 14.

That same day, police again received a report of three to four teams playing soccer at Walter Hall Park. Police responded and spoke to the teams about how there could only be 10 people per group, per a report. Police responded to another call at the park later that day.

On April 12, Easter Sunday, police found the biggest gathering yet at the park. According to a report, police responded to a call at Walter Hall Park and found "hundreds of people" at the park, but "most [were] at a safe distance."

A gas station along FM 646 was also reported several times for allowing residents to use gambling machines inside.

On April 9, police responded to the business and told the clerk that residents were not allowed to use them during the stay-at-home orders. The clerk had been told the prior week the same message, and police said the next violation would result in a fine, according to a report.

On April 11, police responded to the gas station for a third time for reports of residents using the gambling machines. An officer spoke with the manager, who turned off the machines and said he had been having trouble making customers leave the store.

Despite the previous warning about a citation, no one at the gas station was fined.

In other instances, police were called with reports of large gatherings at residences. Police sometimes found reports had been exaggerated and no action was taken. Other times, police asked residents to disperse, which they did, according to the reports.
By Jake Magee

Editor, Bay Area & Pearland/Friendswood

Jake has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper. Today, he covers everything from aerospace to transportation to flood mitigation.


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