Wash. authorities planning to educate, not ticket or arrest people, during stay-at-home order


Several local police departments said Tuesday that they are not being asked to ticket or arrest violators of Washington’s stay-at-home order. Instead, they plan to focus on educating the public on why the order is necessary to prevent spreading of COVID-19.

The executive order, which Gov. Jay Inslee issued to all Washingtonians Monday, will be in effect until April 6. Nonessential businesses must close by Wednesday night.

The Kennewick Police Department issued the following statement:

With Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Health” order announced last night we are receiving several inquiries about what enforcement of the order will look like and what the role of law enforcement will be. During this trying time in our State, enforcement means engagement and education.

Law enforcement’s primary role is to help educate people about how to comply with orders to stay at home. We are not being asked to detain, arrest, ticket or establish checkpoints for compliance. Any rumors of strict law enforcement or “martial law” are not true.

We view our role more as one of education. Educating residents on how to keep themselves safe, how to keep their families safe and most importantly, to keep the rest of the community safe, especially our vulnerable populations. When officers encounter people not complying with an order, we will remind them, as appropriate, of the recommendation and restrictions.

We understand some people need to carry out essential services such as:

Safety and security

Food, water, shelter

Health and medical

Energy (power and fuel)



Any rumors of individuals or businesses needing “passes” or “licenses” to conduct essential services are not true.

Our community has shown they understand the severity of the situation and are doing all they can already to keep themselves, their families and neighbors safe and healthy.

Concerning Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, no law enforcement agencies have any desire to make any arrests or take anybody to jail for violations. Rest assured, we will continue to serve you every minute of every day and as other crimes are committed within the City of Kennewick we will always enforce the laws that keep people safe.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Walla Walla  County Sheriff’s Office and Grant County Sheriff’s Office have issued similar statements.

Pasco Police Sgt. Rigo Pruneda told KAPP-KVEW his department agreed with the policies outlined in these statements.

Pruneda said people have been doing a great job of staying home the past few days, and he anticipates that people will follow the order. He said people who do not will comply will be contacted.

Law enforcement do have the authority to cite or arrest people for violating the order if deemed necessary.