Orange County Sheriff: We’re Not Enforcing ‘Unfair’ and Unconstitutional COVID Rules

On Monday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” Orange County, CA Sheriff Don Barnes said that his office will not enforce California’s newest coronavirus restrictions because the restrictions aren’t fair to law enforcement or county residents and don’t pass constitutional muster. Barnes also argued that it’s contradictory to restrict the ability of law enforcement to do its job, but then demand they “arrest lawful residents of the county who are just trying to make ends meet, and are doing so by following the rules.”

Barnes said, “It’s been a long year for everybody. We know that. It’s been very impactful upon all of the businesses and residents of Orange County and California. But I just don’t think that it’s something that falls in line with a law enforcement priority. 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. 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.”

He added, “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 further stated, “When you look at this year for law enforcement, after Minneapolis, 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.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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