Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes announced Saturday that his agency would not enforce the new coronavirus-related lockdown enacted in California.
According to the Associated Press, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a plan last week for the most restrictive lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic if the state’s COVID-19 metrics met certain thresholds, which has now happened.
From the AP:
The vast region of Southern California, much of the San Francisco Bay area and a large swath of the Central Valley are about to be placed under a sweeping new lockdown in an urgent attempt to slow the rapid rise of coronavirus cases.
The California Department of Public Health said Saturday the intensive care unit capacity in Southern California and Central Valley hospitals had fallen below a 15% threshold that triggers the new measures, which include strict closures for businesses and a ban on gathering with anyone outside of your own household. The new measures will take effect Sunday evening and remain in place for at least three weeks, meaning the lockdown will cover the Christmas holiday.
What did the sheriff say?
Barnes did not mince words: He said that compliance with the new order is a matter of “personal responsibility,” so his agency would not be enforcing the “ever-changing” nature of Democrat-imposed restrictions.
“The Orange County Sheriff’s Department will remain consistent in our approach,” Barnes explained. “Orange County Sheriff’s deputies will not be dispatched to, or respond to, calls for service to enforce compliance with face coverings, social gatherings, or stay-at-home orders only. Deputies will respond to calls for potential criminal behavior and for the protection of life and property. Our actions remain consistent with the protections of constitutional rights.”
The sheriff also criticized the restrictions because they hurt Americans who are “already struggling through difficult circumstances.”
“To put the onus on law enforcement to enforce these orders against law abiding citizens who are already struggling through difficult circumstances, while at the same time criticizing law enforcement and taking away tools to do our job, is both contradictory and disingenuous,” Barnes said.
When Newsom enacted a less restrictive stay-at-home order last month, Barnes also bucked the Democratic governor.
“At this time, due to the need to have deputies available for emergency calls for service, deputies will not be responding to requests for face-coverings or social gatherings-only enforcement,” Barnes said.