On Thursday, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones issued a statement highlighting why he is not going to enforce the Health or Other Orders.
WHY I’M NOT ENFORCING HEALTH OR OTHER ORDERS
While I remain in quarantine, there seem to be those (including from the Governor’s press conference today) who can’t resist connecting my contraction of Covid with my official position of not utilizing armed officers to enforce emergency or other orders. Two distinct things.
I have enacted dozens of measures inside our department to keep our employees and the public as safe as possible, including mandatory mask policies. I am responsible for the welfare of over 2,000 employees. Despite those measures, because of the inherent nature of the necessary work we do, the possibility of contracting the virus is an ever-present reality. I personally have not engaged in any reckless behavior, I generally always wear a mask in public, I don’t engage in activities over the recommended numbers, or dine out when it has been against the rules. Three things, incidentally, we know others have done but been lucky enough to escape infection. Also, every one of my public statements on the matter have urged compliance with ALL safety measures. But alas, I still got Covid, not through some high-risk, flagrant disregard of guidelines, but at work. Though some would like to blame me, and as savory as it would be for some to do so, one would similarly have to blame all 14 million Americans that have contracted the virus, not to mention hold almost 300,000 people responsible for their own demise. That certainly defies logic, and is borderline evil.
Now to my refusal to enforce directives–and they seem to come from everywhere. From public health officers who may not be doctors, from various elected officials, though they are not lawyers or court officers charged with guarding the Constitution, and from unelected bureaucrats who are neither elected by, nor accountable to, anyone. The primary reason is practical–we don’t have the staffing. We still do all the same types of things we have always done, and we don’t have additional time or staffing to take on more.
The second reason requires more introspection. There exist serious questions of Constitutionality, probable cause, and reasonable suspicion that guide our actions as law enforcement officers. We can’t guess, we can’t be wrong, and we can’t take the word of politicians, bureaucrats and health officials that they exist. The legislature is charged with enacting laws, yet these groups want to create ‘laws’ that have the same force and effect.
And even if they were enforceable, what level of force would be appropriate for officers to use to enforce them if folks resist compliance? And what if there is tolerance for SOME violations but not others–say a social justice protest versus a wedding? What if a public official violates them, as we’ve seen on the news, should they be arrested? Should violators be cited at the scene and left to continue violating, or should they be booked into jail? Should we use law enforcement to shut down businesses? What level of investigative resources should we dedicate to determine if somone is out of their home for an “essential purpose”? There are clearly more questions than answers.
As for me, one Sheriff in one jurisdiction, I’m not going to put my officers in that position. I am going to encourage folks to continue to call us when they need us, and assure them that we will show up and help in whatever way we can to make the situation better, not worse. I am going to continue as I have from Day 1 of this pandemic, educating folks when necessary so they can continue to make the best decisions for their and their family’s safety.
I hope most folks can respect that.
Sacramento County Sheriff