NJ Police Chief Refuses to Break Up Larger Thanksgiving Gatherings at Homes

Other police chiefs in the state have only addressed the issue when questioned, and the Howell police chief said that he talked with others — many of whom agreed that they have no plans to do any dinner intervening either

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One New Jersey police chief is throwing out the rulebook on indoor restrictions, saying he and his department won't be enforcing the governor's limits on gatherings this Thanksgiving.

Andrew Kudrick, the Police Chief for Howell Township, said on Facebook that he explicitly told his officers to ignore the executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy that bans gatherings of more than 10 people indoors.

"We are not going to be interfering with people's Thanksgiving dinners or their holiday dinners or their social gatherings, unless it's something egregious," Kudrick said.

To the egregious part, Kudrick mentioned an outdoor house party over the summer that drew around 300 people on a Sunday night. Police did respond to that, as well as a more recent party of more than 100 people — but the latter did come at some cost. At least seven police officers were infected with COVID-19 after breaking up that party.

But the emphatic statement from Kudrick came as other police chiefs addressed the issue only when questioned. Kudrick said that he talked with other chiefs, many of whom agreed that they have no plans to do any dinner intervening either.

Both the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office and the state attorney general, both of whom Kudrick answers to, either had no comment or did not respond to requests for comment regarding the chief's statement.

For his part, Gov. Murphy fired back against Kudrick's statements on Friday.

"This is not about some minor infraction. These executive orders are about saving people's lives ," Murphy said.

Kudrick notes that the governor has carved out exemptions to his executive order, including religious services and others.

"When you exempt certain people's, especially those who are attending political activities, from the executive orders, I think that same courtesy should apply to people who are having friends and family over at their houses," Kudrick said.

Grocery store workers have said that orders for big turkeys and all the usual fixings are being scaled down, as people cut back from the threat of COVID-19. Many shoppers at stores on Friday seemed to agree with the police chief's decision, even if they weren't having a big celebration themselves.

For what it's worth, Kudrick said he will be bringing a green bean casserole to his Thanksgiving gathering this year, which will include less than 10 people.

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