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CA Sheriff says he won’t enforce ‘unconstitutional’ COVID restrictions

Orange County Sheriff’s Department (elisfkc/WikiCommons)
December 08, 2020

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said he will not enforce California’s latest COVID-19 restrictions, saying the measures don’t stand the “constitutional test.”

On Monday, Sheriff Barnes told Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” that the restrictions are unfair to both law enforcement and county residents.

“We have many other responsibilities that we’re dealing with, many responsibilities really aren’t ours that we’re dealing with, homelessness, mental illness, substance use disorder,” Barnes said. “And to lay on this one more additional expectation, I think is not only fair — or unfair to law enforcement, to the residents of Orange County, but it’s just unfair overall. I don’t think it stands the constitutional test.”

On Saturday, Orange County released a statement notifying residents that the county would be under a Regional Stay-at-Home Order per Governor Gavin Newsom.

The new order required residents to “stay at home as much as possible and not mix with other households to reduce exposure.” The order also included closing outdoor dining at restaurants, a move that has been the subject of backlash since it’s implementation.

Barnes said he didn’t know how government officials can decide which businesses are essential and which businesses aren’t.

“Every one of the businesses that are operating have met the expectations of the state. … It’s like the goalposts keep moving ten yards back, week by week,” Barnes said.

According to Sheriff Barnes, enforcing the restrictions fails to meet “law enforcement priority,” noting that the year has been universally difficult, as well as “impactful upon all of the businesses and residents of Orange County and California.”

He went on to point out the contradictory directions officials have given law enforcement, saying “the California legislature made it its mission to defund the police, to change the rules, to come out with new legislation that would restrict the way we can do our job. So, on one hand, you’re saying, we want you to stop doing things that would result in actions against the community, and on the other hand, we’re saying, but not this time, the rules are different. Go out and arrest people. And I’m not sure that we ever want to be in a position where law enforcement [operates] with that mission in mind to go out and arrest lawful residents of the county who are just trying to make ends meet, and are doing so by following the rules.”