Police will not “shut down” drive-by celebrations

80 parade

The Deep River Police say they will not take part in and cannot condone drive-by celebrations, but they have no plan to seek them out and shut them down.

The police service issued a statement late Thursday to clarify a position they had announced to great controversy earlier this week.

On Monday, the police noted on social media that they would no longer “be able to participate or allow others to participate in birthday or other celebration drive by(s)” because such events are considered a “parade” under the province’s current shutdown orders.

“Although we understand the kindness behind the gesture, we are abiding by the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act,” which during the current coronavirus pandemic, includes any “organized public event of more than five people, including a parade.”

“This has been a very challenging time for everyone around the world, and we realize that birthdays, anniversaries, milestones etc will be missed. We must stand strong and plan to celebrate when the bans are lifted,” the statement concluded.

“Thank you for understanding. We got this Deep River!”

The police service’s statement unleashed a storm of comments. While some were supportive of the department’s decision, most decried the move, calling it “totally ridiculous” and “shameful.”

Late Thursday, the police service issued a follow-up message to clarify their position.

The police service said the original post was “meant to advise citizens that Emergency Services would no longer be taking part in the festivities at the current time as some of these type celebrations had been cancelled in the county after conversations with the Renfrew County (and) District Health Unit.”

“One such event was a scheduled drive by from Emergency Services to thank the medical personnel at the Renfrew Victoria Hospital.”

“When we have information or complaints come in about things, then we must address that,” the police stated.

The police service said they were also trying to advise local residents “that we could not allow/give permission to people as they were calling in and asking if they can do this, as the celebration did fall under EMCPA (Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act).”

“Yes, maybe we should have clarified that part further instead of just saying ‘allow.’

“We had no intention of having an officer drive around looking for these events and shutting them down.

“Throughout this pandemic the Deep River Police have worked with the province to talk with people and educate the public when complaints come in and/or officers have noticed any violations with respect to the current pandemic.”

“We have seen the good in these celebrations on many levels,” the statement continues, “and if people (both in their vehicle and watching from their properties) respect the physical distancing, then the Deep River Police have no issue with these celebrations being done at appropriate times of the day.”

“We thank the persons that did contact and speak with us about this issue.

“Ultimately please remember we are all in this together and have been working hard on all fronts to slow the spread of this virus down so that when the time is right, we can get back to normal and celebrate all people in our communities.”

Photo: Andrea Pellerin was the recipient of one local drive-by celebration, as friends and family helped her mark her 80th birthday Sunday.

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