Since Friday, several County Sheriff’s Departments and cities across California announced their refusal to enforce the statewide mandatory mask order.
More Sheriff’s Departments defy state mandate
Issued last week by Governor Gavin Newsom, the order stated that masks must be worn inside all public indoor places and outside when staying six feet away from people would not be possible. Governor Newsom issued the order to combat the growing number of coronavirus cases within the state, with the 3,702 hospitalized patients surpassing the previous April high on Sunday.
“The reason we’re doing this is simple. Wearing face coverings saves lives and mitigates spread, said Governor Newsom on Monday during a press conference. “As we reopen, all I ask is that we are more vigilant than we have been. There’s no ambiguity there.”
However, the Calaveras, Fresno, Orange, Sacramento, and Tulare County Sheriff’s Departments have announced that they would not be enforcing the order as of Monday, with several other Counties mulling over whether or not they could or should enforce it. The departments who have announced that they wouldn’t enforce it have said that the charge itself is too minor, that it is the responsibility of the person and not law enforcement in upholding it, and that there are simply a lack of available resources to have sheriff’s cover an entire county for this behavior.
“It is each person’s responsibility to wear a face covering, and follow other recommended safeguards, in order to stop the spread of COVID-19; it is not law enforcement’s responsibility to enforce it,” stated Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.
As the California Globe previously reported, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones also took a firm stand against the order.
“The Sheriff’s Office recommends that everyone continue exercising safe practices, including wearing masks pursuant to the Governor’s recommendation, especially around those in high-risk groups,” noted Sheriff Jones in a statement. “However, due to the minor nature of the offense, the potential for negative outcomes during enforcement encounters, and anticipating the various ways in which the order may be violated, it would be inappropriate for deputies to criminally enforce the Governor’s mandate. Accordingly, the Sheriff’s Office will not be doing so.”
Cities and towns also go against order
Many Californian cities have also fought back against the ban, with Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum in particular refusing to follow for her Nevada County city.
“The governor oversees departments and agencies, but cannot make orders unilaterally. He is not a king; he doesn’t have that authority,” said Mayor Senum during the weekend on her Facebook page.
“As you go about your day today, KNOW there is NO LAW that Orders you to Wear a Mask. Our Governor does NOT have that unilateral power to make such orders. While I know the HEADLINES over the last couple days have stated something entirely different, that is because journalism is dead.
Again, THERE IS NO LAW THAT STATES YOU MUST WEAR A MASK. Ask our local Police chief or officers. They will not, and cannot, cite ANYBODY for not wearing a mask because the law does not exist.”
So far, the state of California has not responded to the numerous defiances of the mandate, with Governor Gavin Newsom only restating the bottom line and the reason why on Monday.
“We’re going to see something soon from the California government about following and enforcing the masks,” noted former Sheriff Deputy Thomas Spezio. “This is a statewide health crisis, and they’ll do what they can to stop the spread and save lives.
But until that happens, other counties will also have reasons for dropping out, especially larger ones that are harder to cover.”