Local law enforcement is trying to alleviate citizens’ concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. After Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, Walla Walla and College Place police said they began receiving inquiries about what enforcement of the order will look like and what the role of law enforcement will be.
Local law enforcement said their primary role is to help educate people about how to comply with orders to stay at home. A person’s movement will not be restricted.
“We expect people to go out and walk their dog,” College Place Police Chief Troy Tomaras said. “We know people are going to use the park, but we’re asking people not to use the playground equipment. Anything that can transmit the COVID-19 virus, we’re asking people to stay away from.”
“We are not being asked to detain, arrest, ticket, or establish checkpoints for compliance,” Walla Walla Public Information Officer Sgt. Eric Knudson said. “Rumors of strict law enforcement or martial law are not true.”
Tomaras added that there is another false rumor circulating.
“There was a rumor going around that the Oregon/Washington border was being shut down,” Tomaras said. “It’s not happening.”
Tomaras and Knudson agree the role of local law enforcement is educating residents on how to keep them safe, how to keep their families safe, and most importantly, how to keep the rest of the community safe, especially our vulnerable populations.
According to law enforcement, the best thing everyone can do right now is to look out for one another and be courteous.
“A woman grabbed some toilet paper at Walmart and another shopper came by and grabbed it out of her shopping cart,” Tomaras said. “We don’t need that kind of behavior.”
Local law enforcement agencies are continuing to serve the community and enforce the law to keep people safe.
“When officers encounter people not complying with an order, we will remind them, as appropriate, of the recommendation and restrictions,” Knudson said. “We have no desire to make any arrests or take anyone to jail for violations. Rumors of individuals or businesses needing passes or licenses to conduct essential services are not true.”