Ariz. Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Shelter Order: ‘It’s Not a Crime to Make a Living’

‘My conscience will not allow me to arrest someone who is trying to make a living…’

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Doug Ducey/Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC)

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Two county sheriffs in Arizona said they will not enforce Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order, arguing that it is not “a crime to try and make a living.”

Ducey said last week that citizens who violate his shelter-in-place order, which was recently extended through mid-May, could face a fine or jail time.

“Law enforcement can suggest they begin listening to the order,” Ducey said, according to the Arizona Republic. “And if they don’t, they’re going to have a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail, and we will enforce that.”

Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, however, said Ducey’s order is unconstitutional.

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“My conscience will not allow me to arrest someone who is trying to make a living,” Schuster said, adding that most of the people he knows don’t “want to be defying” the order. “They’re trying to do what’s best for their families,” he added.

Both Schuster and Lamb said they’d speak to citizens caught violating Ducey’s order. But neither sheriff expects this to become a problem, nor do they want their officers to become the “social distancing police,” according to Schuster.

“We’ll get compliance,” Schuster said. “These businesses are not looking to butt heads with law enforcement or the state.”

To maintain compliance, law enforcement should work to reinforce constitutional rights, Lamb said, but Ducey is trying to do the exact opposite.

“I felt [Ducey] pushed me into a position where I needed to make our stance clear,” he told the Arizona Republic. “The numbers don’t justify the actions anymore. Three hundred deaths is not a significant enough number to continue to ruin the economy.”

About 360 people have died from COVID-19 in Arizona, according to the New York Times