State of emergency means stay home

2014-01-06T17:00:00Z 2014-01-07T07:54:06Z State of emergency means stay homeBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

Local law enforcement had one uniform answer when asked Monday what a state of emergency means.

"The real easy answer is it means stay home," said Sgt. Larry LaFlower, a spokesman for the Porter County Sheriff's Department.

"It means we really only want emergency vehicles on the road," said Lake County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Patti Van Til. "If you don't absolutely have to go out, then don't go out."

Sheriff's police understand if medical personnel and other workers who deal with public health and well-being have to get to work, she said.

In both counties, the states of emergency declared by the counties applied only to their unincorporated portions. It is up to local municipalities if they want to do so within their boundaries, LaFlower and Van Til said.

The state of emergency declaration posted on the government website for Porter County states only law enforcement and emergency vehicles may be on the roads. Any other person found on the road may be liable for a fine of $2,500, according to the posted declaration.

LaFlower said he didn't know if anyone had been cited for being on the roads in Porter County in violation of the state of emergency.

Van Til said no tickets have been issued to motorists by Lake County sheriff's police for violating the emergency.

Some people posting on The Times Facebook page have questioned if they can be fired by their boss for staying home from work during a declared emergency.

"I don't know how any person could be that uncaring or outrageous," Van Til said. "I would hope people would be a little more caring than that."

LaFlower said the emergency declared for unincorporated portions of the county has nothing to do with martial law.

Martial law is when the military replaces civilian authorities, often taking on such duties as enforcing civil and criminal law and even suspending such basic rights as the freedom to assemble.

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