Coronavirus Safety: San Francisco police begin enforcing social distancing

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As we head into the weekend, law enforcement agencies throughout the Bay Area are sending the same message- "stay home"- but they're still trying to figure out enforcement on social distancing.

In San Francisco, SKY7 flew over Berkeley Marina, San Francisco Marina, and Ocean Beach.

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While over Golden Gate Park, SKY7 captured park rangers on ATV's, warning people at beach chalet playing soccer.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott made a stern warning.

"This is really important and I cannot stress it enough. We have begun to cite- we will not ask you twice. We've been patient but we want to stay ahead of this. We want to flatten the curve and we want to save lives," Chief Scott said.

Not everyone is heeding the warning.

At Ballena Isle Marina in Alameda, neighbors that live in condos and boats along the marina say they've seen an influx of people from out of town come into their community.

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Dan Abrahams lives on his boat. "I'm 76 years old so I can't be hanging around groups of people. I'm passing by people having picnics next to the road. I'm passing groups on the road that are right next to each other- they're not social distancing," Abrahams said.

Nick Stellato is younger than most of the residents along the marina and has been getting groceries for some of his neighbors. He says these people from out of town are putting everyone at risk.

"There's one guy that set up an RV at the end of the road with about 10 children, five or six adults having a barbecue," Stellato said.

Lieutenant Ryan DeRespini from the Alameda Police Department says every shift feels like a different world right now.

"From the 30 year veteran to the probationary officer of six months on- this is a complete change in the way we're doing things," Lt. DeRespini said.

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Lt. DeRespini said right now they are practicing 'education' enforcement. They do not want to have to start writing citations. They have not written any citations so far.

He stresses that it should not be put just on the police to enforce shelter-in-place rules that are mandated from the state and federal level.

"Don't put it on the police or put it on your neighbor to call the police that you're out there playing a game of basketball at the park or giving hugs to friends when you see them in the community. We don't want to be the social distancing police or the 'your construction project isn't essential' police," Lt. DeRespini said.

He said everyone can do their part right now.

"We all have to play by the same rules, I personally don't want my officers out there interacting if they can avoid it. That's the last thing we want- we don't want an officer exposed - I believe we have three officers in California now who have contracted and passed away as a result of COVID- we don't want that," Lt. DeRespini said.

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