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Police in rural communities say they won’t enforce Ducey’s curfew

By: - May 31, 2020 5:04 pm

A woman makes a peace sign before a line of police preparing to advance upon demonstrators after a rally by President Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center on Aug. 22, 2017. Phoenix police ended the demonstration by firing tear gas into the crowd. Photo by David McNew | Getty Images

The curfew that Gov. Doug Ducey imposed in response to looting in Scottsdale on Saturday night won’t be quite as statewide as he intended, with at least two rural police departments announcing that they won’t enforce it.

The Holbrook and Williams police departments wrote on their Facebook pages that they see no need for the curfew and won’t enforce it. The chief of the Snowflake-Taylor Police Department did the same.

Ducey’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

While the Holbrook Police Department wrote that it respects the office of the governor and encourages “self compliance,” it noted that the northern Arizona town of about 6,000 people hasn’t seen the kinds of riots that have occurred elsewhere in the country over the past week, when protests and riots broke out in many major cities in response to a Minneapolis police officer’s killing of an unarmed black man named George Floyd.

“As such, we feel that enforcing a curfew would have a negative effect upon our city. We as a department respect the constitutional rights of our citizens and we will not infringe upon these God given rights,” the Holbrook Police Department wrote on Facebook. “We feel that mutual respect exists between the Holbrook Police and the citizens we serve. Enforcing an order where no demonstrated need exists will negatively affect this relationship.”

Similarly, the Williams Police Department noted that, while Ducey’s executive order gives police the authority to enforce his curfew, the department won’t do so.

“Businesses can remain open and we will not force people to stay in after 8:00 pm if you have a (legitimate) reason to be out. Our wonderful community of Williams thankfully has had no issues with riots, fights, fires, etc., however, If issues do arise, the Williams PD has been given the authority to enforce the curfew,” wrote the department, which serves a town of about 3,200 people west of Flagstaff.

Likewise, Police Chief Robert Martin, who heads the Snowflake-Taylor Police Department in eastern Arizona, said his officers won’t stop people who are out after 8 p.m. He said he made the decision after consulting other police chiefs in neighboring communities.

“If you are out during the hours of 8pm-5am and your conduct is peaceful, we have no reason to enforce this order…” Martin wrote. “…(I)f you are not part of a protest that has become unruly or are participating in civil unrest, this order does not apply to you. Go about your daily lives and activities and enjoy our beautiful weather and evenings.”

One of those neighboring communities to Snowflake is Pinetop-Lakeside, which also posted Sunday afternoon on Facebook that it has no intention of enforcing Ducey’s order.

“Businesses can remain open and we will not force people to stay in after 8:00 pm,” the department wrote. “The community of Pinetop-Lakeside, thankfully has had no issues with riots, fights, fires, etc., however, If issues do arise, the Pinetop-Lakeside PD has been given the authority to enforce the curfew.”

And the Sierra Vista Police Department won’t enforce the curfew, according to Today’s News-Herald, a newspaper in Lake Havasu City.

“Fortunately, we have not seen riots or violent protests in Sierra Vista, and this curfew order is a tool the SVPD does not expect to need to use,” Sierra Vista Mayor Rick Mueller said in a prepared statement, according to the newspaper. He said that police will be “emphasizing education on the state’s guidance, unless enforcement is called for to protect public safety or property.”

***UPDATED: This story has been updated to include additional information. The headline was also changed to reflect that more than Holbrook and Williams police departments say they won’t enforce the order. 

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”