PORTLAND, Ore. — Since Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced her statewide state-home executive order on Monday, many have wondered how law enforcement agencies will enforce the new social distancing guidelines.
Portland police on Wednesday answered some frequently asked questions the bureau has been getting. Here’s how police plan to work with people who aren’t complying with the governor’s new orders:
What is PPB’s plan to enforce the orders?
PPB recognizes we have an important role in helping to educate the public, especially those who may not be aware of the order. PPB is taking an educate-first approach. Officers will attempt to educate violators of the order first, from a distance, in accordance with the six-foot social distancing guidelines. Every effort will be made to gain voluntary compliance with the governor's order and provide a warning.
What if someone does not comply with the officer’s warning?
Officers will provide a warning that the subject may be issued a criminal citation if they do not comply. The goal is to make community members aware of the importance of compliance and to encourage them to voluntarily follow the directions given.
What if someone continues to defy the order after a warning?
If community members do not adhere to the officer's direction, they are subject to criminal citation for Interfering with a Police Officer-ORS 162.247 and Penalties for violation of the executive order-ORS 401.990, which are misdemeanor crimes. Criminal citation is a last resort measure and the public is highly encouraged to be aware of the order and voluntarily comply.
What if business owners/staff are out of compliance?
If businesses are not in compliance, they will also be provided a warning and opportunity to get in compliance. Officers will write a report and those will be sent to any appropriate licensing agency, such as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
If I need to report a violation of the order, who do I call?
It is imperative for community members to refrain from calling 911 and overloading the emergency system with non-emergency calls for service. Police officers and other first responders are needed to respond to emergency life-safety calls as a priority. If there is an identified safety issue related to the governor's order, the non-emergency dispatch line at (503) 823-3333 can be utilized to report order compliance. These calls will be triaged to determine if police response is appropriate. A lot of factors go into the triage of calls, including what other calls are occurring citywide and how many available police units there are. If resources and call load permit, PPB officers will respond.
What is PPB’s plan for enforcement related to those who are houseless?
The governor’s order does not exclude any particular group based upon housing status from being subject to enforcement. PPB is aware that there are a number of individuals who may be homeless who do not have the same access to information and may not be aware of the order. PPB will make every effort to educate first (on the executive orders and social distancing options) and will provide resource options, such as where shelters can be accessed. Again, criminal citation is not the goal and would be used as a very last resort.
Will the police be doing focused enforcement to stop people while driving to see if they are in violation of the orders?
No, there are no traffic missions related to violation of the orders. The first goal of the PPB during this time of health crisis is to be able to respond to calls for service to preserve life safety. PPB has reduced the number of face-to-face contacts with community members by taking calls on-line and by phone so the officers and community members are not unknowingly spreading the virus.
What is PPB’s plan to enforce the orders equitably?
PPB is concerned about the well-being of all members of Portland’s diverse community which varies in more than just age, race, housing status, and social class. As such, our approach (to use an educate-first strategy, followed by a warning, then as a last resort a criminal citation) is designed to reach a broad range of audiences. PPB officers are highly trained, compassionate, and will adapt their approach depending upon the situation. For example, if they are called for a group of children interacting in a park, they would use different language to explain the situation than for adults. The overarching goal is to make all members of the public aware of the orders and to reinforce the importance of limiting public contact to reduce the spread of the disease to protect our most vulnerable.
Where can I find updated information on PPB’s COVID-19 response?
For the most current information about PPB's response, access to resources, and public messages, visit the bureau's dedicated web page here.
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