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Law enforcement agencies indicate stay-at-home order will be self-policed

Three area law enforcement agencies have announced they will not be actively enforcing Gov. Tim Walz’s “Stay at Home” executive order, but they are encouraging people to abide by the order.

The Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office in a news release and Lake City Police Department on Facebook announced they would not be pulling over motorists to check for compliance with the order. The Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office announced on Facebook that “law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to validate if you need to be out or not.”

“My belief and my experience tell me that Minnesotans are doing an excellent job of self-regulating already by social distancing as well as staying at home,” Goodhue County Sheriff Mary Kelly is quoted as saying.

The Wabasha County Facebook post, attributed to Sheriff Rodney Bartsh, echoes that. “It appears that everyone has been doing quite well with the social distancing and staying home. We still want our businesses that are open to maintain their business.”

When asked whether police might take enforcement action against someone who is pulled over for another infraction like speeding and found to be in violation of the order, Lake City Police Sgt. Bill Weist cited Gov. Walz, who said the order is based on “voluntary social compliance, we don’t want to arrest people who don’t comply but rather educate them.”

“That being said, if someone was out looking for trouble the executive order does state that someone who ‘willfully violates’ is guilty of a misdemeanor,” Weist said. “I will also point out the language in the executive order stating ‘Nothing in this Executive Order is intended to encourage or allow law enforcement to transgress individual constitutional rights.’”
 

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