Police Department Response to COVID-19
June 24, 2020
Chief Fort Responds to Statewide Face Mask Requirement
First of all, I am very proud of the men and women of the Battle Ground Police Department. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the national narrative about police reform, the officers and staff have responded with dignity and compassion to every question, every concern. I am also thankful to the citizens of Battle Ground who have shown overwhelming support for our police officers. We receive letters and gratitude nearly every day. Those symbols of appreciation mean the world to our officers and staff, and truly emphasize that we are all navigating through these events together, and that we all care about each other. Thank you!
A note about the new statewide face mask requirement: I realize there are a lot of questions about the new mandatory face masks required by the State. Please know that our officers care about every one of you, and we truly want for your safety as well as ours. We are all part of the community, and I have every confidence that our officers will continue to exercise the compassionate judgement you have come to expect. Since we have at the beginning of the statewide restrictions, BGPD officers will continue to do their best to educate and inform people about the information coming from our public health officials so that we can all return to economic and social norms as soon as possible.
I also want to address the perception that local police are going to start arresting people for COVID-19 related health violations. I think the Police Department has an obligation to educate people the best we can, but I believe the statewide face covering order is a public health and safety measure, it is not a mandate for law enforcement to detain, cite or arrest violators but rather an evidence-based and safety focused directive meant to slow the spread of a potentially deadly disease. Governor Inslee himself stated, "We don’t want to have enforcement of this. Ideally, there won’t be any criminal or civil sanctions for individuals. We just think people will respond, as they had to the first stay home order.” I agree with the Governor and I’ll add that as a general matter we do not have the capacity to respond to complaints of “COVID-19 virus” violations, whether they are business violations, social distancing, or mask violations. I trust that people are fully capable of exercising good judgement about their personal health and the health of their neighbors.
It is also important to recognize that some people have a variety of medical conditions that make them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. As Washingtonians, I believe we will continue to respect their need to be healthy by wearing masks when possible. However, as stated on the Washington State Coronavirus Response website page regarding face masks, if you see someone not wearing a mask – do nothing,“Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. Just wear your mask and stay six feet away.”
There are important resources available to anyone with additional questions regarding COVID-19 or wearing of face coverings and masks. I strongly suggest you avail yourselves of these important community resources:
- Clark County Public Health response - https://www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/novel-coronavirus
- Washington State Department of Health response - https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
- Washington State Coronavirus Responsehttps://coronavirus.wa.gov/information-for/you-and-your-family/face-masks-or-cloth-face-covering
Stay Healthy in “Partnership with the Community,”
Chief Mike Fort
Battle Ground Police Department
Stay Home/Stay Healthy Order Compliance Complaints
The Battle Ground Police Department’s process and protocol for responding to these particular requests for service is to encourage voluntary compliance by providing information to the business or individual about the Governor’s COVID-19 related proclamations and the possible penalties for failure to comply.
Washington State has its own process for responding to citizen complaints related to businesses who may be in violation of Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders. Please refer to the following:
Should you wish to report suspected business violations of the order, use the WA State Violation of the Governor’s Order form.
If you would like to file a complaint on an individual or private group, please use this form.
March 20, 2020
Message from Chief Fort
Amid all the uncertainty of COVID-19 and related orders, I want you to know that your police officers are still here keeping you safe. We are still responding to crime, and we remain vigilant in watching out for your safety. Our officers are proud to serve, and profoundly committed to the citizens of Battle Ground.
In order to comply with Governor Inslee’s orders and to keep as many people as safe as possible, here are a few things we are asking from our citizens:
- Call 9-1-1 for life-saving emergencies, and/or crimes in progress. These remain our top priority, and we will respond immediately, as always.
- To report a crime that is not life-threatening, we ask you to consider a few options to get your case reported and investigated with minimal direct contact with an officer:
- Call 311 to report the crime and ask for the officer to call you so they can take your report over the phone.
- Consider online reporting. This new service is an excellent option for those who have limited time to wait for an available police officer to take the report. You will immediately receive a case number, and you can rest assured that a police officer will contact you if more information is needed. You can view the type of acceptable reports as well as file your report online by accessing the Public Safety Citizens Online Portal.
- Finally, if you would like to meet with an officer regarding a non-emergency type incident, please meet them outside in an open-air environment. This paired with the County Health Director’s recommendation to practice social distancing by maintaining six-feet distances if possible while communicating with others, will help safeguard both you and our first responders.
The men and women of the Battle Ground Police Department are not only here to serve the community…we are part of the community too.