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Sheriffs defy ‘unconstitutional’ order: ‘My conscience will not allow me to arrest someone who is trying to make a living’

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Two Arizona sheriffs have vowed that they will not arrest anyone for allegedly violating what amount’s to state-required house arrest amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb insist Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order is unconstitutional and they won’t enforce it either through monetary penalties or taking anyone, including a small-business operator, into custody.

Even so, both sheriffs seem to be taking a measured approach to their dissent.

Ducey, a Republican, has extended the shelter-in-place mandate through May 15.

According to Ducey’s directive, violators could face up to six months behind bars if convicted for a class one misdemeanor along with a $2,500 fine.

Sheriff Schuster told the Arizona Republic that “My conscience will not allow me to arrest someone who is trying to make a living. I don’t believe it is a crime to try and make a living.” Doing so would violate his oath of office, he asserted

He separately told a Phoenix TV station that “I’m not going to make criminals out of law-abiding citizens. As a sheriff, I cannot in good conscience issue citations or arrest people for not social distancing.”

Sheriff Lamb, who is very familiar to fans of the popular TV shows Live PD and Live PD Wanted, explained that “It’s unfortunate that we’re here but I need to make a stand for the people and for freedom. I don’t want to cite, fine or arrest fine people.”

Lamb added that “The numbers don’t justify the actions anymore. Three hundred deaths is not a significant enough number to continue to ruin the economy.”

He also indicated that he would consider taking Ducey to court to test the constitutionality of the quarantine. Lamb noted that before going public, he had already implemented an informal policy whereby deputies would refrain from arresting anyone for alleged violations of the governor’s decree.

Both lawmen seem to acknowledge that voluntary compliance on the part of the citizenry would continue and that they weren’t out to encourage people to violate the governor’s order.

“We’ll get compliance. These businesses are not looking to butt heads with law enforcement or the state,” Schuster observed. He urged his constituents to go about their lives using “common sense and good judgment.”

Although they reached their decision separately, Schuster and Lamb have discussed their mutual opposition to the current mandate such as formalizing their no-arrest policy. Lamb has also discussed the matter with other sheriffs around the state.

Densely populated Pinal and Maricopa counties in the Phoenix area have become hotbeds for COVID-19. Statewide, about 360 fatalities have occurred owing to the infection out of about 8,600 cases. Mohave County is located in the northwestern part of the state and is home to the Lake Havasu City tourist destination.

Across the country, state and local governments continue to try to restrict freedom of movement even as the so-called coronavirus curve continues to flatten. Wasting resources that should be used to fight violent crime, helicopters patrolled closed beaches in California, and the NYPD  issued summonses and made arrests over coronavirus social-distancing violations in area parks, for example.

 

Robert Jonathan

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