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Violating the order issued Monday is a Class C misdemeanor, which means the police now must figure out how to enforce it.

PMG FILE PHOTO - This form of questioning meets the new social distancing requirments at the Portland Police Bureau.The Portland Police Bureau is shifting gears to figure out how to enforced the statewide Stay at Home order issued by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Monday, March 23.

Last week, before the order was issued, Portland Police Chief Jami Resch told reporters the bureau did not have any role in enforcing Brown's previous orders, such as closing restaurants and bars except for take-out food.

But the Monday order makes violating it a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by 30 days in jail and a $1,250 fine. That means the police now have an official role to play in enforcing it.

A few hours after Brown announced her order, the bureau issued a press release which said, "We are in a critical time in our collective fight to mitigate the dangerous risk this virus poses to our community. Ideally, everyone would be aware of the order and voluntarily comply. We will take an educate-first approach and use criminal citations as a very last resort."

Enforcing the order will require judgement, however. People are still allowed to leave their homes for essential trips, like grocery shopping and even exercising. It prohibits gatherings of any size, but excludes families. It requires people to remain six feet apart when outside their homes, but doesn't say whether that applies to families.

And, unlike such order issued in some other states, Brown's order does not list essential businesses whose employees are allowed to travel to and from their employee if they cannot work from home. instead, it directs a limited number businesses to close where crowds and close contact are hard to control, like shopping centers, gyms, barber shops, beauty salons, and movie theaters. But it says other business can remain open if they permit as many employees as possible to work from home, while allowing the rest to come to their job sites, provided they remain six feet apart.

The order gives stores until midnight to comply. Offices have until Wednesday, March 25.

The release said the bureau will use an education-first approach to enforcement, as follows:

• 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.

• If community members do not adhere to the officer's direction, they are subject to criminal citation for Interfering with a police officer and penalties for violation of the executive order, 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,

• 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.

The release also says officers will continue responding to all calls for service in-person when there is a life safety issue or other identified need and by phone for all other calls. For that to happen, the bureau is asking community members to refrain from calling 9-1-1 and overloading the emergency system with non-emergency calls for service. Those wanting to report a potential safety issue related to the order are asked to call the non-emergency dispatch line at (503) 823-3333. These calls will be triaged to determine if police response is appropriate.

A spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said the agency is also hoping to educate the public about the "importance of adhering to Gov. Brown's Executive Order." Deputies can issue a warning if someone is non-compliant.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office said deputies have the authority to arrested anyone violating the executive order, but "that is not our goal. We want to make sure everyone understands the Executive Order has been put in place for their safety and everyone else's in the community."

The Portland Police Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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