Several California sheriffs are telling Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) that they are planning not to enforce the state's new curfew rules.
"We’re not going to make criminals of normally law-abiding citizens," Fresno County sheriff Margaret Mims said. Officials in four other law-enforcement agencies in the state also said they do not plan to treat gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic as criminal, according to Fox 26.
Mims argued that the police have higher priorities, including "taking guns away from gang members, stopping narcotic trafficking, and saving children from internet predators." She also said there is little data showing that activities between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. play a significant role in spreading the virus.
Newsom has come under fire in recent days for visiting a high-end Napa Valley restaurant for a lobbyist's birthday. The governor claimed he and other guests followed social distancing guidelines during the party, but photos circulated online showing the group socializing in close quarters, indoors, and without masks.
Other police officers in the state echoed Mims's position and said they would encourage compliance and boost education efforts about the dangers of the virus's spread without arresting people. Sacramento County sheriff Scott Jones said his department would not enforce the curfew, limitations on social gatherings, or masks mandates.
The governor unveiled the new restrictions just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday and amid a surge in cases across the state. The restrictions place a ban on nonessential activity between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in counties that contain 94 percent of the state's population. Some counties, like Los Angeles County, have also imposed limits on gatherings of people celebrating the holidays.
In some parts of the Golden State, county officials have taken issue with Newsom's rules about closing restaurants and businesses. San Bernardino County supervisors this week announced their intent to sue Newsom on the grounds that "one-size-fits-all" coronavirus rules don't suit the conditions in many communities.