Canby Police Department Won’t Turn Blind Eye to Businesses Reopening ahead of Governor’s Orders

Amid growing frustration from some that the governor’s strict social distancing rules are doing more harm than good, local business owners should be warned: Canby police will not turn a blind eye to any intentional efforts to violate statewide rules meant to keep Oregonians safe.

As Canby Police Chief Bret Smith explained in a memo to his officers this week, the Canby Police Department has both the authority and responsibility to enforce the governor’s executive orders, including making arrests or issuing citations. Violating a governor’s orders during a state of emergency would constitute a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,250, or both.


“We’re part of the executive branch of the state and we have an obligation to enforce rules,” Chief Smith told the Canby Now Podcast this week.

That said, Canby police has always enjoyed strong relationships with the local business community and the general public, and the chief doesn’t expect that to change. In the event of a violation, a citation or arrest would not be Plan A, or even B or C.

“Our message is that we’re going to remind people about the rules. We’re going to educate them,” Chief Smith says. “If we have a business that is non-compliant, either because they’re on the closure list, or they’re allowed to be open but are not taking the precautions required, we’ll stop by and do some friendly education.”

If the business ignores this “education” and continues to violate the rules, Canby police would — as required — report the violation to the Oregon Department of Justice and any associated licensing agencies, such as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for bars or the Health Licensing Office for hair salons.

Repeatedly non-compliant businesses could ultimately face the suspension or revocation of their business license, as well as civil penalties up to $5,000.

The chief seemed understanding of people’s frustrations, some of which stem from Oregon having one of the lowest reported incident rates of Covid-19 in the country.

“We have lower numbers in Oregon, and that’s due in large part because of the social distancing that we’ve all been doing,” he said. “We want to be good stewards of that. We want to see people stay healthy and stay safe.”

He said that’s what it’s all about, not the politics of the reopening question.

“We’re not here because of the governor,” he said. “We’re here because there is a sincere concern about the health and safety of Oregonians. We’re here because of medical expertise, because of what’s happening around the country, and because of the advice that’s been given to the governor to help keep our citizens safe.”

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