SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Police Department says its officers have not been asked to punish those who do not comply with a statewide "stay-at-home" order issued by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday.
Washington joins at least a dozen other states in issuing orders for residents to "stay-at-home," in an effort to slow the growing coronavirus outbreak. Only "essential businesses" may remain open to the public.
The order takes effect immediately for residents, and in 48 hours for businesses. It will be in place for two weeks.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, gas stations and restaurants offering take-out are among the essential businesses that will be allowed to remain open. State officials urged residents to not rush these businesses and to not hoard supplies.
Spokane police said on Monday that their role in supporting the governor's order is to educate the community about how to comply, rather than detaining, arresting or ticketing those who are out of compliance.
"Our intent is to help Spokane residents by educating them on how to keep themselves safe, how to keep their families safe and how to keep the rest of the community safe," the Spokane Police Department said in a statement.
When officers encounter people who are not complying with the order, they will remind them of the recommendations and restrictions.
"No law enforcement agency has any desire to make arrests for violations," SPD wrote in the statement.
"The Spokane Police Department is counting on everyone to self-regulate and to encourage friends and neighbors to do the same. Self-regulating and heeding the governor’s order will allow our police to continue its strong focus on crime prevention and public safety. Rest assured that the Spokane Police Department will continue to serve you every minute of every day in a professional and compassionate manner," the statement continues.