Local law enforcement leaders say governor's pandemic curfew may be difficult to enforce

By Ed Martin, Editor
Local law enforcement leaders say governor's pandemic curfew may be difficult to enforce

Despite a limited curfew order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, many of the state’s law enforcement leaders, from California police chiefs to county sheriffs, say they won’t enforce the edict from the state’s top official.

Local law enforcement officials say the governor’s order is unlikely to be enforced in Kings County. Kings County entered the purple tier only this past week due in part to rising COVID-19 cases.

Newsom announced the order’s implementation – applied to the state’s purple-tier counties -  on Thursday. The order takes hold on Saturday, subjecting the state’s citizens to a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

The vast majority of the state’s counties, including Kings County, will be required to adhere to the limited stay-at-home order. The order affects 94 percent of the state’s residents and will cover only nonessential activities. For example, restaurants will have to close their outdoor dining by 10 p.m.

It is in the state’s purple tier that transmission rates are the highest. The majority of Californians live in that tier, and the curfew will stay in effect for a month, from Nov. 21 through Dec. 21.

Already, the Fresno City Police Department and Fresno County Sheriff’s Department say they do not plan to enforce the upcoming curfew, citing manpower issues and the monitoring local residents, which could place a strain on routine law enforcement duties.

Kings County Sheriff David Robinson says the curfew order is not something he and his department will enforce. “Over the last several months, we have seen the ups and downs of this pandemic.  Our approach has remained the same throughout, and the ups and downs of the data are not as a result of any of our action or inaction,” he said.

“Additionally, I have great concerns that an attempt of enforcement at private gatherings subject my staff to unnecessary exposure and could violate the 4th Amendment (rights) of private persons.” 

Robinson also told The Leader that the Kings County Jail is at a near-capacity. Any suggested violation of this order isn’t to the level of a crime that can even be booked in a California jail.

Robinson added that essential sectors must still operate, and people in those sectors “need to know they will not be targeted by law enforcement, while they try to hold their daily lives together.”   At-risk persons should be the focus of targeted education and support during this time, he said.  

Lemoore Police Chief Mike Kendall told The Leader that he expects his department’s officers to ask for voluntary compliance with all of the state’s regulations.

He also said the department’s efforts would be limited. “Officers will not take a proactive approach enforcing the curfew order, nor do we have the manpower to enforce such an order,” he said.

Comments powered by Disqus