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Information provided by Keith Keck, Saline County Justice of the Peace, April 2, 2020.

April 2, 2020—Saline County Judge Jeff Arey issued an Executive Order this afternoon under his emergency powers to combat the COVID-19 pandemic directing that juveniles in the unincorporated areas of Saline County must “stay at home” 24 hours a day unless they are accompanied by a parent, working, getting medical attention, or buying food or necessary supplies. The Order goes into effect on Monday, April 6th, but parents and guardians are urged to begin complying immediately. Judge Arey’s Order mirrors language in a related emergency declaration by Benton Mayor Tom Farmer issued today which applies to the city of Benton and also goes into effect on Monday. 

Grandparents of teens are at high risk

Judge Arey explained, “I have been discussing this issue with other local officials, particularly Mayor Farmer and Circuit Judge Robert Herzfeld, who presides over Juvenile Court, for some time. I would strongly prefer that folks take this action on their own, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been happening. We have been increasingly concerned about asymptomatic teens passing COVID-19 to one another and endangering themselves, their families, and our community. Frankly, from what we’ve seen, it appears that the grandparents of teens may be at the highest risk of dying from COVID-19. We have asked and pleaded and suggested for parents to keep kids home, but we understand this is easier said than done. Judge Herzfeld suggested that issuing this order will, among other things, make it easier to do what they need to do to protect their families.” 

Judges are elected to serve and make tough calls

“I want to make crystal clear, that the objective of this order is to save lives. Our objective is absolutely not to arrest a bunch of teenagers or their parents. We expect officers and deputies to use their best judgment in breaking up groups, sending kids home, and only issuing citations or making arrests as a last resort. Should a citizen call 911 if they see a 17-year-old jogging down a path exercising? Please, no. We have to use common sense, but should they think about calling the non-emergency number if there is a group of teens hanging all over each other down by the river or roaming around East End unsupervised? Hopefully, that won’t be happening, but Yes, a few words from a deputy telling them ‘to get on home’ might literally save lives. This may not be a popular decision with some folks, and we understand that, but we don’t get elected to be popular we were chosen to serve and to make the tough calls.” For more information contact Saline County Judge Jeff Arey at jeff.arey@salinecounty.org or 501-303-5640.

Edited to add: Judge Arey said, “All we are asking is that kids act responsibly and parents be responsible for their kids, pretty simple.   This order only covers the unincorporated areas of the county.  For those cities within Saline County that would want this same protection for their communities, they would need to issue their own Executive Order as Mayor Farmer did for Benton.    I would like to thank Mayor Farmer, Judge Herzfeld, Sheriff Wright and others for their leadership during these past few weeks.”





For the convenience of those desiring to download the text of this article, please see the pdf below.

Saline County Judge Issues “Juvenile Stay at Home” Executive Order pdf



Thank you to Keith Keck, Saline County Justice of the Peace, for providing us with this update.

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Cover photo courtesy of Max Pixel

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