March 27, 2020

Following Governor Kate Brown’s “Stay at Home” executive order, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) issued enforcement guidance and began reassuring residents that the agency’s goal is education over enforcement.

While the Executive Order allows law enforcement agencies to issue misdemeanor citations and can make an arrest if necessary, Sheriff Mike Reese said those actions are reserved for only the most extreme cases and after at least one warning.

Sheriff Mike Reese says it's education over enforcement of state "stay home" order.

“Deputies are not being asked to detain, arrest, ticket or establish checkpoints for compliance,” Reese said. “Instead, they have been encouraged to share public health information and offer resources to individuals who need them.”

Brown’s eight-page order issued March 23 prohibited any social or recreational gatherings outside the home of any size in which people do not remain at least six feet apart. The order also identified which businesses must close and what the penalties are for breaking the rules.

The Sheriff’s Office published answers to frequently asked questions, and Reese issued a statement on equity and respect in enforcement.

“Our values as a law enforcement agency align with the values of the community we serve,” Reese said. “Public trust and accountability in law enforcement are vital to a safe and inclusive community.”

Reese clarified that simply being outside is not a reason to be stopped and questioned by law enforcement. But if children or adults are congregating in large groups, it is possible a deputy may start a a conversation about the state order. Deputies have been asked to focus on why it’s important to follow the order, and how keeping physical distance from people will help protect their loved ones and their community.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking for cooperation as it reaches out to residents.

“We understand the measures may be challenging to follow,” Reese said. “If an individual or group needs further assistance, deputies can connect them to local resources and organizations. We are here to help.”

The Sheriff’s Office has published its frequently asked questions in multiple languages.