The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office has announced it will exercise broad discretion regarding Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Deputies will not intentionally seek out violators and plan no checkpoints, the announcement said.

Instead, when deputies encounter someone in response to a call for service, they would ask their destination and their reason for travel.

Deputies will handle each incident on a case-by-case basis and exercise broad discretion, the announcement said.

DeWine’s order is detailed and the PDF version covers 23 pages.

Item 17 of the order says it may be enforced by state and local authorities to the extent set forth in Ohio law.

The order does not cite any specific laws, but Capt. Adam Moore of the Delaware Police Department said these sections of the Ohio Revised Code apply:

• 3701.13 and 3701.14 give the Ohio director of health the authority to issue the order.

• 3701.56 requires police officers, sheriffs, constables, etc., to enforce the order.

• 3701.352 prohibits the violation of orders or rules from the director of health.

• 3701.99 says violation of the sections is a minor misdemeanor on a first offense; on each subsequent offense, the violator could be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

The sheriff’s office announcement emphasizes the overall goal is “to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and to help protect our loved ones, friends, neighbors and vulnerable populations. ... We ask residents to use caution in every decision related to their personal actions and the potential spread of COVID-19.”

Complying with the governor’s order will allow deputies to focus on responding to serious crimes, supporting victims and assisting older and compromised populations, the announcement added.

While not a requirement, the announcement said, it would be helpful and would save time if employers provided employees with an “essential worker” letter indicating they are required to work.

“The letter will help us to quickly verify employment and we would be able to expedite our contact,” the announcement said.

The announcement suggests the letter should be printed on company letterhead and include the employee’s name and work hours, address of work, employer contact name and 24/7 phone number, plus a date and signature.

Any employee contact with deputies will go more quickly if the employee has the employer’s letter, work identification and a driver’s license or government-issued photo ID, the announcement said.

DeWine’s order can be viewed at tinyurl.com/dewinestayhome.

For more information, call the Ohio Department of Health’s coronavirus question line, 833-427-5634.

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