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Don't call 911 to report your neighbors for violating COVID-19 regulations

Oregon law enforcement recommends calling their non-emergency dispatch lines to report violations by individuals.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon residents should not call 911 to report violations of Gov. Kate Brown’s two-week freeze. Various law enforcement offices recommend calling their non-emergency dispatch numbers instead. 

On Nov. 20, Brown said she believes residents who know their neighbors are violating the most recent round of COVID-19 protocols should call the police. These rules include capping groups at six people, from no more than two households.

“This is no different than what happens if there's a party down the street and it's keeping everyone awake,” Brown said. “What do neighbors do [in that case]? They call law enforcement because it's too noisy. This is just like that. It's like a violation of a noise ordinance.”

RELATED: Gov. Brown says people should call police on COVID-19 violators

However, law enforcement offices cautioned against calling 911, as many of these offices are already overwhelmed with emergency calls. Oregonians can call the following dispatch numbers to report gatherings they believe to be illegal.

  • Portland Police Bureau: 503-823-3333
  • Washington County Sheriff’s Office: 503-629-0111
  • Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office: 503-655-8211
  • Lake Oswego: 503-635-0238 

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management said people should not call 911 unless there is a fire or other urgent life safety emergency. 

In order to report business or workplace violations, law enforcement recommends contacting Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If the business serves alcohol, you can contact the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) as well. 

Both Brown and law enforcement highlighted that they are still promoting an “education-first” model. 

Danny DiPietro, communications sergeant at Washington County Sheriff's Office, wrote in an email that “enforcement is an option of last resort.” 

The Marion County Sheriff’s office said in a Nov. 20 statement, “We recognize that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic, and we believe both are counterproductive to public health goals...We can work together in following these recommendations to make our communities a safer and healthier place."

RELATED: Some leaders push back on Oregon governor's freeze. A COVID-19 survivor offers full support

A deputy’s first step will still be to educate the individual(s) of their violation(s). Only in extreme cases, where people are at risk, would an individual be arrested or receive a citation.

Violators could technically face up to 30 days in jail, $1,250 in fines or both. Though Brown promotes education rather than enforcement, she added this option to stop cases from spiking in Oregon.

“This is about saving lives and it's about protecting our fellow Oregonians,” Brown said. “We have too many sporadic cases in Oregon. We can't trace these cases to a particular source. We have to limit gatherings and social interactions.”

RELATED: Oregon to have new set of COVID-19 restrictions after two-week freeze