TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With Arizona’s "Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay connected” order in effect, many asked about who will be enforcing it and how.
Gov. Doug Ducey issued the order Monday, March 30 to go into effect at 5 p.m. March 31. It will be in place until at least April 30 in a continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The governor’s order promotes increased physical distancing while encouraging social connectedness among residents. Under the executive order, Arizonans are asked to limit their time at essential business and activities.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said his department will be taking an educational approach, as instructed by the governor, in community policing.
“This is a very complicated situation that none of us could’ve imagined a mere few months ago. We didn’t even know the term social distancing just a mere two months ago,” Napier said. “Nothing in these executive orders mandate that you remain in your home at all times or otherwise risk arrest. That’s never been the intent of these orders.”
Napier said the governor’s intent of the order is not to see how many people a department can arrest. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department sees an arrest or citation as a last resort, according to the sheriff.
“Egregious violations and people thumbing their nose at these conditions of what is not permissible, we will deal with and unfortunately that may result in the arrest of some people, but that will be because of their actions, not our desire to be overzealous in enforcement," Napier said.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and City Attorney Mike Rankin said they expect the enforcement to be in education, notification and then citation if necessary.
Individuals who knowingly fail or refuse to obey a lawful order under the emergency management laws may be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Arizona Attorney General Mark Bronvich issued an opinion on the enforcement Tuesday:
“The opinion concludes that while individuals who knowingly fail or refuse to obey a lawful order under the emergency management laws may be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor, law enforcement agencies must take care to maintain constitutional safeguards that exist to protect individual rights and fundamental liberties.”
“I do not want to diminish for one moment the importance of these executive orders and the critical nature of the public health emergency that we face,” Napier said.