Gov. Newsom's Running into a Problem with His COVID Curfew

Posted: Nov 21, 2020 10:55 AM
Gov. Newsom's Running into a Problem with His COVID Curfew

Source: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday announced a Wuhan coronavirus curfew for residents in the Golden State. Between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. "nonessential work" and gatherings are prohibited in areas where the state is in the purple tier, which is 94 percent of the state.

The problem Newsom is now facing: sheriffs in Southern California refuse to enforce his curfew.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes questioned the constitutionality of Newsom's order and made clear he wouldn't send deputies out for calls on Newsom's order.

"Let me be clear: this is a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter of law enforcement," Barnes said in a statement. "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 or property."

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco stated similar concerns.

"It has been the policy of the Sheriff’s Department to encourage responsible behavior and compliance with the Governor’s orders," Bianco said in a statement. "To ensure constitutional rights are not violated and to limit potential negative interactions and exposure to our deputies, we will not be responding to calls for service based solely on non-compliance with the new order or social distancing and mask guidelines."

San Bernardino County Sherif John McMahon stated his deputies would be taking an education-based approach, making sure people knew about the governor's orders.

"It is not our intent to utilize patrol personnel to respond to these allegations," McMahon said in a statement. "Those calling to report alleged violations of Public Health orders will be referred to the county's Joint Information Center (JIC) so the appropriate department(s) can be made aware and address the incidents on a case by case basis."

Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub had a similar explanation.

"In short, we will not be actively enforcing the curfew order. However, we will continue to respond to public safety concerns and provide law enforcement services wherever they are needed," Ayub said in a statement. "We ask that everyone do their part to avoid situations that may contribute to the spread of COVID19."

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood stated deputies would only be deployed if there was some sort of crime taking place in addition to the stay-at-home order violation.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore is the only sheriff in the southernmost part of the state who has said he would actively enforce Newsom's curfew. Four full-time deputies will be deployed specifically for COVID violations. Gore's team will work with a number of city police departments, including Oceanside, Carlsbad, City of San Diego, Chula Vista and Coronado, to make sure the orders are followed.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has yet to say if he will enforce the orders.

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