By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Chatham-Kent law enforcement isn’t ruling out locking the doors of places of worship that continue to defy pandemic public health rules.
At a municipal press conference last week, Chatham-Kent Police Chief Gary Conn said officials are working with the Crown Attorney’s office to determine if court injunctions to stop church gatherings are an option here.
Chief Conn said the issue is being examined, but stressed an injunction isn’t a quick fix, as they take one to two weeks to compile and execute.
According to the chief, discipline is directed at church organizers rather than congregants.
“They (church members) wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the organizer,” Conn explained.
The safety of police officers attending such events must also be considered when dealing with a gathering, he said.
Rule breakers are disciplined in two ways, Conn said. Part One offences include a set fine, which, when factoring in a victim surcharge, totals $880.
A summons is issued for a Part Three charge with no set fine, Conn explained. These can be issued for up to six months after the alleged incident and fines cover a wide spectrum, ranging from $10,000 to $500,000.
As of last week, 21 Part One charges had been laid in Chatham-Kent and 15 Part Three summonses have been issued.
A total of 14 charges in relation to three Old Colony Mennonite Churches located in Chatham-Kent have been laid. Seven of those are in connection with the Wheatley site, three related to Charing Cross and four at the Dresden site.