Violations of health guidelines, including parties of over 10 people, may lead to fines

Jared Galanti, Staff Reporter

In any college town there are bound to be parties found somewhere either off-campus or on campus, especially during Halloween.

Dan Hansberry, the operations captain of the Ellensburg Police Department, said due to large COVID-19 outbreaks happening at other universities in the state, the way that the documentation of these gatherings happened had to be changed a little bit.

The health guidelines in Kittitas County state that no more than 10 people who are not in one household can be together at one time with social distancing and masks on. 

“What we have done in partnership with other law enforcement agencies in [CWU] is come up with a reporting process or following our standard process back to the school if we find students who are violating the health rule for COVID-19,” Hansberry said. 

Hansberry said officers who arrive at a scene off-campus with more than 10 people who clearly don’t live together will write a citation to the homeowner as well as sending that report to CWU Student Success, where the violators will have to deal with potential penalties as well.

Hansberry also said it is pretty easy to spot potential violators because of the noise ordinance in Ellensburg. 

“You kind of know on a Friday afternoon if someone is setting their house up for a party,” Hansberry said. “You start seeing other people showing up, we’ll preemptively make contact with that residence.”

Hansberry said when they make contact with the residents they will let them know the police department is aware that they are having a party, and will let them know the consequences if they do, which includes fines. 

Those fines double each time a noise ordinance is broken within a 12 month period starting at $513 for the first offense, $1,025 for the second offense and $2,050 for the third offense. 

Officers aren’t the only ones concerned about parties going on during the pandemic. 

Students have also become concerned about parties taking place to begin with.

Judy Brewer, a junior industrial engineering major, said she has heard of parties going on that are not in agreement with the health guidelines.

“I saw one. They were in a garage and there were easily 50 or more people,” Brewer said. 

While Brewer said that she has gone to small BBQs with friends, she has never been to one of these massive parties. 

She also said random people who are looking for parties, referred to as party crashers, have come into her apartment thinking a party was happening simply because they heard loud music coming from there.

Brewer said she thinks the guidelines put forth by CWU are good but she knows not everyone is following them.

“If everyone followed [the guidelines] to a tee that would be awesome,” Brewer said. “It’s kind of [like] recycling. If everyone does a little bit it’s really great.”

In addition to the Ellensburg Police Department, the CWU police department is also taking part in enforcing COVID-19 guidelines both on and off-campus.

Marc McPherson, a lieutenant of the CWU police department, said they are trying to enforce safety and noise guidelines with the least intrusive ways possible.

“As far as COVID-19 protocols go we are essentially information gatherers at this time which is good,” McPherson said. “Because it helps us maintain that relationship with the community.”

McPherson said there have been a few complaints on campus about gatherings of more than 10 people and people not wearing masks. 

He said the protocol for those sorts of complaints is educating the violators and making sure they are in compliance with the guidelines put in place. 

“Our primary goal is to make sure everyone is safe,” McPerson said. “It’s a plea to stay within the guidelines and stop the spread so we can get back to normal sooner rather than later.”