Keeping Pullman Healthy

Keeping Pullman Healthy
Posted on 08/21/2020

August 21, 2020

Gary Jenkins, Chief of Police

Pullman Police Department

(509) 334-0802


KEEPING PULLMAN HEALTHY

 

I have received feedback and questions about the Proclamation Violations news release issued on August 19. It is evident that news release did not provide sufficient detail to effectively convey our plan to address proclamation violations.

 

Although most instruction at Washington State University (WSU) will be online, we have already seen WSU students returning to Pullman, and we expect thousands more by August 24 when WSU’s academic year begins. In the past two weeks, officers have responded to approximately a dozen complaints about parties at residences and apartments, mostly on College Hill, that involved attendees without facemasks, not practicing social distancing, and exceeding the gathering size limitation. One party involved well over 50 participants. We expect the number and size of parties to increase as more WSU students arrive in Pullman.

 

While our education and warning approach has been relatively successful for individuals, the introduction of multiple parties involving 30+ persons each poses an increased potential health risk to our community. The Whitman County Public Health director has expressed concerns about the impact to public health from large gatherings without masks and social distancing. We would be negligent by allowing these parties to continue. With respect to enforcement, we will consider the circumstances of each situation. Continually educating and warning the same individuals will not be effective to achieve compliance.

 

I acknowledge that there are varying views and opinions related to COVID-19 orders from Governor Inslee and the State Department of Health. There are even varying views within our own staff. The bottom line is that we have a duty and obligation to protect the community.

 

Officers will not be patrolling to look for individual violations. Mask enforcement will only occur in extreme circumstances, after a complaint is received and an individual is given every opportunity to comply, following education and warning. We will focus our efforts on parties that present the greatest potential impact to public health.

 

The preceding news release listed criminal violations with maximum potential penalties. Final penalties in criminal cases are determined by a judge. A charge with a maximum potential penalty of a $5,000 fine and 365 days jail could be adjudicated with a small fine, or no fine at all, and no jail. Absent extreme circumstances (determined by a judge), I don’t believe anyone should spend a day in jail for a mask violation. I would be very surprised, based on the instructions I have given to my staff, that any individual mask citation is issued. Again, our focus is parties/gatherings.

 

My staff does not want to issue any citations/infractions. It is my hope that everyone will respect our community and comply with proclamation requirements, especially with respect to parties/gatherings. The sooner we can reduce the spread and positive COVID-19 cases, the sooner our community can completely open for business.

 

Wear a mask  *  Stay 6 feet apart  *  Limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people

 

Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order Overview 

 

Gathering Size Limitation Information 

 

Face Mask Information & Requirements

"Keeping Pullman Healthy" Video Message from Chief Jenkins