PHOENIX — At least three Arizona sheriffs say they will not fully enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s extended stay-at-home order.
Most non-essential businesses have remained closed across the state, but there is some rebellion.
Some businesses have reopened, without permission, when the governor failed to lift the stay-at-home order on Thursday. Some Arizonans have also protested, saying social distancing rules should be loosened immediately, in part to save small businesses from ruin.
Anyone who defies the governor’s stay-at home-order, including businesses that reopen in violation, are committing a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said he won’t enforce the penalties. Lamb said the governor’s order seemingly conflicts with the U.S. Constitution.
"Keeping people from going out and working and being able to live their lives like they normally do," Lamb said. "I think you can make a clear claim that that’s a constitutional violation."
Lamb added that refusing to let people inside businesses and restricting gatherings could be a violation of the First Amendment right to peaceful assembly.
Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster, at Thursday's Board of Supervisors meeting, said his deputies are not going to be the "social distancing police."
"It’s my job to ensure their freedoms and liberties are safeguarded," Schuster said. "I am not going to make criminals out of law abiding citizens that are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table."
He clarified Friday, saying it is recommended and advisable to take precautions against coronavirus.
Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the Gila County Sheriff’s Office told ABC15, "We are encouraging people to follow CDC guidelines, but we will not be arresting anyone or closing any businesses."
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has taken action to enforce the stay-at-home order. Last month, deputies issued criminal citations to Euro Pizza Cafe in Fountain Hills. MCSO deputies accuse that business of illegally being open to dine-in customers.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office told ABC15, it will look at every reported violation on a case-by-case basis.
The Navajo County Sheriff's Office said it is following the Governor’s Executive Order and will address issues as needed. "In Navajo County, we have had great cooperation from the citizens and business owners during this difficult time," Chief Deputy Brian Swanty said.
According to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, deputies have had very few issues with businesses, and the three or four they have had, were resolved through a phone call.
Phoenix police say they have not issued any citations or made any arrests, so far. Their strategy is to "lead with education" in an effort to have self-compliance.
Scottsdale's plan is to first educate citizens and businesses of the Governor’s stay-at-home order. If those efforts fail, a police spokesman said, officers will document each incident for the City’s Prosecutors Office to later determine if charges are warranted.
The Tempe Police Department is asking for voluntary compliance as it relates to the extended executive order to stay home. According to a spokesman, their goal is to warn and educate those in violation and issue citations/criminal complaints if voluntary compliance is not adhered to after those initial contacts.
"Fortunately, we have a great community and everyone we’ve encountered has complied," said Mesa Det. Jason Flam. Flam said his department's strategy is to educate anyone in violation and get voluntary compliance.
Goodyear police will be looking at enforcement options on a case-by-case basis.
An Avondale police spokesman said, "We first want to make sure the citizens are aware of the order being extended, understand reasons behind it and then educate persons failing to follow the order." Their goal is "self-compliance for the health and safety of all."
The City of Tucson has an process to report executive order violations online. The city manager's office reaches out to the business before police get involved.
According to the Pima County Sheriff's Office most complaints did not actually reflect a violation of the restrictions, and "due to great cooperation from the public," they have not faced any situations where enforcement action was required.
ABC15 asked Gov. Doug Ducey's office if additional actions will be taken to ensure enforcement. Spokesman Patrick Ptak issued this statement:
"We recognize the sacrifices people have made throughout this health emergency. We know many Arizonans are feeling economic pain, and we’re doing everything we can to alleviate that, while ensuring health and safety.
Arizonans have complied with public health orders, and, because of that, Arizona is as prepared as any state to continue a phased-in economic recovery. Retail businesses are set to resume partial operations next week, and we are working to release additional guidance for restaurants in the days ahead. As has been the case, anyone acting in violation of an order to protect public health risks penalties previously outlined. To be clear, these instances have been few. We’re communicating with local law enforcement. We’re grateful for the cooperation we’ve seen and expect continued cooperation going forward."