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Washington police agencies push education, not punishment, in 'stay-at-home' coronavirus order

A group of sheriffs and police chiefs in Washington added that there is no truth to a rumor that people will need "passes" to leave their homes.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Police and sheriff's deputies won't be on the streets to ticket people who violate the state's "stay-at-home" order.

Officers' emphasis instead will be on "engagement and education" with the public, not punishing people for being out of their homes, or establishing checkpoints to find violators, according to Steve Strachan, the executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, in a prepared statement.

"Law officers have not been asked to detain, arrest, ticket or establish checkpoints for compliance," he said. 

RELATED: Real-time updates: King County reduces jail bookings to slow area coronavirus spread

On Monday night, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a "stay-at-home" order, which limits people from leaving their homes unnecessarily for at least two weeks.

Necessary activities include running errands, such as getting food and visiting doctors, or being outside for walks and gardening, as long as people maintain a safe distance from others. The order also closed all workplaces, except for those classified as "essential business." Businesses can also continue remote work.

RELATED: Gov. Inslee issues stay-at-home order for Washington residents

Strachan said that officers and deputies who encounter people violating the state order will remind people of the state's recommendations.

He also wanted to put a stop to the rumor that Washingtonians will need paperwork to be out of their homes.

"Rumors of individuals or businesses needing 'passes' or 'licenses' to conduct essential services are not true," he wrote.

At least one Washington city — Edmonds — was serious enough about its stay-at-home edict to announce that violators could face fines of up to $500. But Edmond's acting Police Chief Jim Lawless also added law enforcement emphasis would be on education, and not seeking violators to ticket.

RELATED: 'Stay-at-home' violators face $500 maximum fine in Edmonds