Following Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, several law enforcement agencies covering North County and statewide have assured residents their primary concern is educating the public on the order’s restrictions and not for any action resembling “martial law.”
The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) put out a media release following the order, indicating “enforcement means engagement and education.”
In the release, WASPC Executive Director Steve Strachan stated officers were not asked to establish checkpoints, ticket or arrest individuals for compliance to the order, which requires individuals to stay at home unless they are engaging in essential services or actions such as grocery shopping, medical care or outdoor exercise, and prohibiting private and public groups.
“Our communities have shown they understand the severity of the situation and are doing all they can already to keep themselves, their families and neighbors safe and healthy,” Strachan said in the release.
The director said state law enforcement officials would focus on educating individuals on keeping themselves, their families and the rest of the community safe, adding that if they encounter those not complying they would “remind them, as appropriate, of the recommendation and restrictions.”
“Rumors of individuals or businesses needing ‘passes’ or ‘licenses’ to conduct essential services are not true,” Strachan said, reiterating grocers and medical services would continue.
More locally, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the order. Their release specifically assured that any rumors of “martial law” were unfounded.
“No law enforcement agencies have any desire to make any arrests or take anybody to jail for violations,” the release stated, reiterating much of WASPC’s statements on a focus on education and understanding that essential services would continue.
Battle Ground Police Chief Mike Fort also made a statement on behalf of his department. Like the other statements, Fort said that most community members have been receptive to the recommendations, remarking that Battle Ground citizens “are compassionate and care about their neighbors and loved ones” and that he fully expected similar compliance with the order.
Fort did bring up that willfully violating Inslee’s order could be charged as a gross misdemeanor, though he expected such enforcement “will be a last resort.”
Fort said Battle Ground citizens looking to report violators should use the department’s anonymous tip form at cityofbg.org/tips and officers will follow up as priorities allow, asking for those complaints to not be made through emergency or non-emergency phone lines.
The chief said BGPD would be vigilant in making sure shuttered businesses were not vandalized or burglarized during their shutdown.
“We realize not only the economic fear that goes with closing a business, but also the real fear of crime when a business is closed,” Fort said.
He asked for residents to keep watch for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods and businesses while the order was in effect.