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34 notices sent to businesses in Sedgwick County believed to be open, sheriff talks enforcement and education

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County Health Department issued 34 notices on Monday to non-essential businesses believed to still be open during the stay-at-home order.

“Just comply with the order,” said Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter.

It is simple advice from the sheriff to business owners who are staying open despite not being listed as essential.

“DA Bennett, Chief Ramsay and I spoke last Friday about at what point does law enforcement get involved?” Easter said.

That has been a conversation at the county level and city level since Sedgwick County enforced its own stay-at-home-order before a statewide order was issued. The order leading to uncharted waters for law enforcement.

“The chief actually sent someone out there to talk to them about how they’re endangering lives by cramming a bunch of people in a tight space,” said Mayor Brandon Whipple.

KSN News called a majority of the businesses who received a notice. Some owners explained their reasoning, some said they are not open and others directed us to their attorneys. None wanted to go on camera. Sheriff Easter wants them to know that those business owners have to comply with the order in the same way his department has to enforce the law.

“The governor’s order says that is a Class A misdemeanor. We are really hoping no one gets to that point whatsoever. But in the end, could someone be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for staying open and violating the order? The potential is yes,” Easter explained.

Tuesday, those businesses who did receive a 24-hour notice to comply, will be visited by law enforcement. Sheriff Easter and his deputies are not looking to take any owners into custody but want to use the visit as an opportunity to educate them on the order.

“That is why this has been one of the last steps that we have even talked about — considering that we are more concentrated on how to keep our deputies safe and our citizens safe,” he said.

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