Governors across the nation have issued stay-at-home orders. Many have extended them once or twice. Some have even gone so far as to threaten to slap residents with fines. But what these governors are counting on is local police departments and sheriffs to enforce their orders. Sheriffs from around the country are standing up and refusing to enforce the orders because they believe them to be unconstitutional.
Two Arizona Sheriffs – Doug Schuster of Mohave County and Mark Lamb of Pinal County – said they will not enforce Gov. Doug Ducey's (R) stay-at-home order. Both Schuster and Lamb agreed to talk with residents about violating the governor's order but they would not arrest those who refuse to comply, Arizona Central reported.
Even though Mohave County is home to Lake Havasu City, one of the state's most popular tourist attractions, the sheriff believes people will be respectful of Ducey's orders.
“We’ll get compliance,” Schuster said. “These businesses are not looking to butt heads with law enforcement or the state.”
Sheriff Lamb, who has become a regular on A&E's "Live PD," said he never intended to make his "unspoken rule" known, but the governor's orders forced him to do so.
“I think people want to know that we’re going to support their constitutional rights,” Lamb said. “I felt (Ducey) pushed me into a position where I needed to make our stance clear.”
According to the Pinal County sheriff, the state's low number of Wuhan coronavirus deaths – 330 – no longer justified a stay-at-home order and keeping people from their livelihoods. He even went so far as to say he would join a lawsuit challenging Ducey's order.
“Three hundred deaths is not a significant enough number to continue to ruin the economy," Lamb said.
Schuster said if he received a complaint about a business, such as a restaurant being open, he would show up and encourage them to practice social distancing and other health care guidelines.
“Call me a coach,” he said. “We’re here to support you. We want to see businesses get back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Schuster said he has no desire to arrest people who are filling restaurant orders.
“My conscience will not allow me to arrest someone who is trying to make a living,” he said. “I don’t believe it is a crime to try and make a living.”
Two sheriffs in Washington State – Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney and Franklin County Sheriff J.D. Raymond – had similar sentiments.
Fortney took to Facebook to explain why he thought Gov. Jay Inslee's (D) orders were wrong.
"I am worried about the economy and I am worried about Washingtonian’s that need to make a living for their family. As more data floods in week by week and day by day about this pandemic I think it is clear that the 'models' have not been entirely accurate," he wrote in a post. "While that is okay, we cannot continue down the same path we have been on if the government reaction does not fit the data or even worse, the same government reaction makes our situation worse."
He went on to say he believed Inslee's orders violated the Constitution.
"As your elected Sheriff I will always put your constitutional rights above politics or popular opinion. We have the right to peaceably assemble," Fortney said. "We have the right to keep and bear arms. We have the right to attend church service of any denomination. The impacts of COVID 19 no longer warrant the suspension of our constitutional rights."
Sheriff Raymond said he refuses to enforce Inslee's orders or "guidelines that infringe on your constitutional rights," KOMO-TV reported.
Raymond made the case that residents can be adults and care for themselves.
"I believe that social distancing and taking appropriate and proper steps to slow the spread of the virus and control its transmission is important," he wrote in a letter to his constituents.
Sheriffs across the nation are standing up against laws they believe are unconstitutional. It really is similar to sheriffs who are bucking gun control laws across the nation. They took an oath to uphold the Constitution and are doing everything in their power to preserve and protect their constituents' rights.
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