Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo issued an executive order on Thursday requiring all persons coming to Rhode Island from New York to self-quarantine for fourteen days, and those who came within the last fourteen days are required to self-quarantine for the remainder of that time.
This order is a response to the explosion of COVID-19 in New York which has climbed past 46,000 confirmed cases.
The searches are meant to ensure that persons who should be self-quarantining are complying with the order. Law enforcement and National Guard members are conducting searches in coastal communities in Rhode Island, asking people if they have recently been to New York State. Additionally, police yesterday began stopping cars with New York state license plates to gather supplemental information.
Steven Brown, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, issued a statement in response to the governor’s order, strongly objecting to the police stops:
Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be.
The governor’s order does not extend to public health, safety, or healthcare workers.