Following Governor Jay Inslee’s statewide “Stay home, Stay Healthy” order, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) outlined how they plan to approach enforcing the order.
The order, issued last night, requires every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity. It also bans all social gatherings and closes all businesses except for those considered “essential.”
WASPC asserted that rumors of individuals or businesses needing “passes” or “licenses” to conduct essential services are untrue.
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Nevertheless, the rules allow for significant leeway.
Not only will people be permitted to travel for basic needs like groceries and medical services, they can also keep engaging in activities such as bike rides, gardening, and dog walking — as long as they follow social distancing rules.
According to Steve Strachan, executive director of WASPC, law enforcement officers have not been asked to detain, arrest, ticket or establish checkpoints for compliance with the order.
We view our role more as one of education. Educating residents on how to keep themselves safe, how to keep their families safe and most importantly, to keep the rest of the community safe, especially our vulnerable populations.”
As far as how law enforcement officers will be directed to handle parties out of compliance with the order, Strachan emphasized that communication would take precedence over punitive action.
When officers and deputies encounter people not complying with an order, we will remind them, as appropriate, of the recommendation and restrictions.”
The exemptions allowed under a “stay-at-home” order can be traced to its titular distinction from a “shelter-in-place” order, the latter of which is given when residents must stay inside their homes and are not permitted to leave under any circumstances, even for essential errands.
Shelter-in-place orders are typically instituted in the case of destructive natural disasters and active shooting events.
By contrast, Strachan said that a stay-at-home order is analogous to other laws that exist to impose a social contract.
In other words, people are asked to comply with the rationale behind the law due to its primary function: keeping people safe.