Southern California Sheriffs Rebel Over Gavin Newsom's New Stay-at-Home Order

Policymakers "must not penalize residents for earning a livelihood, safeguarding their mental health, or enjoying our most cherished freedoms," said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.


Increasingly, it looks like California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) won't have the muscle to impose his latest COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

Over the past few days, the sheriffs of Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties have said that their deputies will not be issuing tickets or making arrests of people violating the governor's latest coronavirus restrictions, which went into effect in southern California on Sunday.

"I want to stay away from businesses that are trying to comply the best they can," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to FOX11's Bill Melugin. "They bent over backwards to modify their entire operation to conform to these current health orders, and then they have the rug yanked out from under them, that's a disservice. I don't want to make their lives any more miserable."

Villanueva has said that enforcing the business closures and other restrictions in the governor's new order, which was announced last Thursday, is the job of Los Angeles County's Health Department. L.A. Sheriff's deputies will focus their efforts on "super spreader" events, he said.

Newsom's latest stay-at-home order groups the state's counties into five regions: Southern California, Northern California, the San Joaquin Valley, the Bay Area, and Greater Sacramento. Once intensive care unit capacity falls below 15 percent in a region, a whole raft of new state restrictions on businesses and individuals snaps into place.

That includes the closure of all onsite dining, indoor or outdoor. Retail stores have to operate at 20 percent capacity. Hotels are closed to tourists. Outdoor playgrounds are closed as well.

People are also generally required to stay home and not gather with anyone outside their own household, save for a few listed exceptions like participating in outdoor religious or political expression, or to "conduct activities associated with the operation, maintenance, or usage of critical infrastructure."

That bans a lot of activities, including pretty low-risk things like having a masked, socially distanced outdoor meeting with a friend. An increasing number of public health experts are questioning the wisdom of some of Newsom's new restrictions.

"Some of the things they're telling you not to do are incredibly low-risk," Emily Oster, a health economist at Brown University, told the Los Angeles Times. "When you are so strict about what people can do, they stop listening."

The arbitrary nature of the new stay-at-home rules has prompted other California sheriffs to say they won't be enforcing the governor's order.

"Compliance with public health orders is a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter of law enforcement," said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes in a Saturday press release, stating that deputies under his command won't be dispatched to calls that only involve people violating stay-at-home orders.

Barnes said complying with public health recommendations like masks and social distancing is important, but that "policy makers must not penalize residents for earning a livelihood, safeguarding their mental health, or enjoying our most cherished freedoms."

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco offered even more colorful criticism of Newsom's order.

"These closures and stay-at-home orders are flat out ridiculous. The metrics used for closures are unbelievably faulty, are not representative of true numbers, and are disastrous for Riverside County," he said in a video criticizing the governor's "dictatorial" approach to the coronavirus, which has included threats to withhold state funds from non-compliant counties.

In follow up comments on Twitter, Bianco said that social distancing and mask-wearing were important, but that "this issue is about punitive actions including arrest for violators." In a subsequent interview with the Desert Sun, he said that enforcement isn't necessary as most people will voluntarily follow masking and social distancing rules.

In the same interview, Bianco questioned the effectiveness of masks at controlling the pandemic and said he would not be taking a COVID-19 vaccine.

Ventura and San Bernardino Counties have also said they will rely on their residents' voluntary compliance with the governor's order. The San Diego's Sheriff's Department, by contrast, has said that it will indeed be enforcing the governor's stay-at-home order.

All told, over a third of Californians live in a county with a sheriff promising not to enforce the governor's stay-at-home order.

This is an encouraging sign that Newsom, who has operated with a pretty free hand during most of the pandemic, is finally starting to encounter real resistance to his constantly shifting, often arbitrary rules aimed at controlling California's pandemic.

It's also a welcome change of pace to see law enforcement officers not gleefully jump on the opportunity to enforce yet more rules and regulations. That's in contrast to places like Miami, Florida, where police have proactively enforced mask mandates by setting up "mask traps" and issuing tickets to people not wearing masks outside.

Neither public health nor individual liberty is served by penalizing people for going to the playground or eating a meal outside.

NEXT: The COVID-19 Vaccine Did Not Kill Your Grandmother

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  1. Ha! Fuck you Newsome! People have to work and live their life motherfucker!

    1. He’ll conjure up new ways of using state power to punish dissenters and maliciously impose new decrees and sanctions from his posh restaurant table…

      1. He’ll just get more state goons since he can’t count on the county level ones to do his bidding.

        I bet the union representing the existing state goons has already been in touch.

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      2. How to pull the reins back from power mad public servants, who believe with every fiber of their being that their constant decrees are making the world a better place? Intoxicated with authority, and seeing no political consequences for their shitty behavior, why would they stop now?

        1. It’s the granting of emergency powers, with large acclaim, to a neo-dictator, who never gives it up, that is historically the more likely loss of freedom than some comic book villain with a scheme.

          Good or bad policy, illegal behavior by sherriffs or not, this level of resistance at a mere state level is a good sign.

          1. Imagine if George Lucas directed a movie about a legislative power granting emergency powers to a chancellor.

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    1. All these stay at home orders or masks mandates are unconstitutional.

      There is zero constitutional power for states to force you to stay at home or wear masks.

      The sheriff should be arresting every state worker in his county for violating the civil rights of Orange County’s citizens.

      1. This^^

        Newsome needs to be arrested for a felony in progress.

        Felony violations of title 18 section 241 conspiracy to commit deprivation of rights under color of law should put him in the slammer for the rest of the century.

        I suspect the sheriff won’t because if he does, the state and the feds (FBI) will crucify him. At which point it becomes our duty to deal with the FBI and the state police directly.

        Newsome isn’t arrested because arresting him means the end of the FBI and state police OR it means the end of America as we know it and the sheriff’s don’t want to risk the latter.

  2. I hope those cops doing “mask traps” in Miami all get ass cancer.

  3. When you don’t follow your own rules why the fuck should anyone else.

    Recall Newsom.

    1. Why recall? Why not treasonous execution? Seriously, it would still be murder, but I don’t see how you don’t have at least a serious wedge case that you did so while promoting general welfare and securing the blessing of liberty.

      1. The American Colonists went to war for much, much less.

        1. Frankly, our modern society is full of pussies.

          “We don’t kill people for that kind of stuff anymore.”

          And that’s why you now have more of that kind of stuff.

          I guaran-expletive-tee you that if these governors knew there was even a smidgeon of a chance of mob justice in reaction to their schemes, they’d have second thoughts.

          1. Wouldn’t need mob action. A disgruntled waiter with nothing to lose at The French Laundry restaurant would be sufficient.

      2. Unfortunately most of the recent guillotine talk I’ve seen has been towards billionaires rather than politicians.

  4. OMG! Everyone in LA is going to die!

    1. And what’s the downside?

      1. see you down in Arizona Bay

        1. first time I’ve seen Tool lyrics in a reason comment. Best song about California ever.

  5. I’m not sure I want to take advice from somebody that wears a bulletproof vest to a press conference. Why’s he wearing a bulletproof vest? I mean, ever? Isn’t he an office worker? Are we supposed to think that he personally is going out on high-risk police actions? Or does he just think it looks cool? Does he practice his quick draw in the mirror and fire his duty weapon while holding it sideways?

    1. He’s from Orange County so I’m thinking cosplay.

    2. There’s a guy who used to walk around Little 5 Points wearing a bulletproof vest as his shirt.
      Pretty sure he wasn’t a cop though…

    3. That is LA county Sheriff Villanueva. He is not from OC. That photo was likely taken during the recent BLM riots where he actually went out in the field to monitor what was going on.
      He is a pretty hands-on sheriff. I worked patrol with him in the 90s and knew him throughout his 30 plus year career before he was elected sheriff. He is not a poser as your comment suggests. His policies lean toward the more liberal and sometimes libertarian side of things than most cops actually do, although the LASD did not take a hands-off let them do whatever they want approach that many departments did during this years riots.

      1. Oh please, he’s a cock. He knows on which side of the bread is buttered and while it may not be Newsom, it’s certainly the unions. It’s equally certain his cops won’t be shy at dishing out thuggery at the drop of a hat should the proles step out of line with any authoritarian rule he likes or might get him re-elected. A liberal, no. A fascist, yes.

  6. >>Barnes said complying with public health recommendations like masks and social distancing is important

    the New Disclaimer …

  7. Law and order. Alternatively, I make the law! Whatever means I get my way.

    1. lack of enforcement is not the same as enforcement. but you already knew that.

      Just like NOT taxing you is not the same as giving you money.

      1. Yes I believe I was just accusing you of being fair-weather libertarians, thanks for noticing.

        1. I’m not sure you know what those words mean.

        2. Good old Tony, always on the side of tyranny and oppression.

        3. always the dumbest guy in the room. It’s really amazing how you hold up so well over the years.

    2. “I make the law” is what Newsom did. These sheriffs are saying “good luck with that”, we’re responsible to the people not to you,

    3. I’m inclined to agree with Tony for once. The prospect of making everything illegal and then giving the men with guns the discretion to not punish should chill any libertarian to the bone. What is the law? Is it the things we write down or is it whatever the local sheriff feels like from moment to moment? Newsom’s mandates are awful and should be opposed by every means necessary (but mostly by leaving California), but handing the power to another even more capricious dictator isn’t the answer.

      1. The law is generally determined by legislative and judicial branches.
        These mandates would probably be treated differently if they came from the legislature, but Newsom unilaterally deciding what people are allowed to do should be opposed at every level.

        It seems like these Sheriffs are doing the opposite of subjective enforcement. They’re saying they won’t do it all across the board.

      2. What is the law? Is it the things we write down or is it whatever the local sheriff feels like from moment to moment?

        TL,DR; Police State =/= Police. State.

        Always the latter. Nobody ever stopped mid-robbery or mid-rape and thought “What if Governor Newsom catches me?” This is a founding principle of the Republic. The legislature is not the executive in both the vertical and lateral bureaucratic dimensions. This is preferrable by libertarian and rational thinking/common sense standards. Local Sheriff in Bumfuck Idaho’s dictates are going to be inherently more sensible and more easily refuted and/or overturned by the people of Bumfuck than the dictates of Governor or Congressman Jackass. The costs of bad decision-making are going to be born more directly by Local Sherriff than they are by the Governor or Congressman. Doesn’t always guarantee that the local sherriff will make the right decision, but that, unless Governor or Congressman Jackass intervenes (either directly or through proxies like police unions), the costs of bad decisions will fall more directly on Local Sherriff.

        In high-minded ideas it’s good that the letter of the law be followed, but if you’re arguing that a local sherriff should commit an immoral act because or forego taking action to prevent an immoral act, then you’re pretty much shitting all over your high-minded ideas. It’s not so much of a ‘baby with the bathwater’ situation as a ‘baby drowning in horseshit’ (if not worse) situation.

        1. Somehow I don’t get a lot of comfort from the idea that the man with a gun’s actions, whatever they be, should be allowed as long as mad.casual calls them “moral”. The only deciding factor over whether the fuzz shows up to stomp on you now is how “immoral” it would be to do so (as defined by who? the police, of course silly!). The sheriff of bumfuck may know more about the problems of bumfuck than governor jackass but this isn’t about choosing which end I want to get fucked in. Sheriffs don’t make laws and neither do governors. Opposing one evil does not necessitate another.

          The moral action isn’t to just ignore Sacramento. If the edicts from Sacramento are immoral you must oppose those edicts directly. Remove the governor.

    4. Once again just a dipshit comment. Did the CA legislature pass a law or did Newsom just make a statement like the Wizard of Oz.

      Nobody has to enforce what Oz says.

  8. What is this, a libertarian website?

    1. Like most libertarians I find it philosophically wanting.

      1. And, frequently, rationally *drink*.

  9. “I would praise Gavin Newsom more”, stated San Diego County sheriff, “But my lips are occupied”.

  10. Looks like we got us a revolution going here.

    Dont you know.
    It’s gonna be alright.

    You can’t expect the police to pull kiddos off of swings in the park. This is not the job they signed up for.

    1. Newsom would lose to anyone with a spine if he had to run for reelection right now. Just need to find the right libertarian-leaning celebrity who will pretend to care about global warming to stand up to him next time. Kurt Russell?

  11. If 2020 was a math word-problem: If you’re going down a river at 2 MPH and your canoe loses a wheel, how much pancake mix would you need to re-shingle your roof?

    1. heh

    2. Scratches head, gets out calculator, and sharpens pencil. 67 pounds of mix, 17 gallons of buttermilk, and lots and lots of bacon.

    3. Funny. Love it.

      The answer to the riddle I came up with was one box of pancake mix.

      You could make pancakes for the roofing guys while they were roofing as a late breakfast.

      The canoe is trash. What good is a canoe with a broken wheel?

  12. The LA city restrictions were worse than the statewide orders. Even walking outside was banned. Maybe the LAPD will enforce it, but not the LA county sheriff’s office.

  13. California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, a physician, counters that some of the actions already taken have saved countless lives. The latest actions will preserve ICU beds for people who need them “whether they’re COVID-19 patients or someone who has suffered a heart attack or a stroke,” he said.

    Stay at home stay safe and also follow the Coronavirus Disease (COVID 19) Guidelines according to WHO.

    1. The latest actions will preserve ICU beds for people who need them “whether they’re COVID-19 patients or someone who has suffered a heart attack or a stroke,” he said.

      “In order to save more people, it’s important that ICU beds remain empty. Additionally, medical personnel should remain home and/or face greater hurdles in their normal efforts to staff beds that are occupied.”

    2. Is this spam or not?

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  18. Law and order, sanctuary city. ring a bell?

  19. L.A. County sheriffs won’t enforce Newson’s stay-at-home edict that’s not supported by “Science”. Newson Irate.

    L.A. County D.A. won’t enforce bail and sentence enhancement rules voted in by citizens. Crickets from Newson.

  20. Was the sheriff in the picture worried that someone might shoot him at the press conference?

    1. Someone explained that. The picture was shot during the riots and he was there.

  21. Policymakers “must not penalize residents for earning a livelihood, safeguarding their mental health, or enjoying our most cherished freedoms,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.

    This coming from the Sheriff whose department has been the subject of a number of scandals over the past year or so, including the mishandling of evidence, failure to properly book evidence into custody, and improper use of jailhouse informants, as well as having multiple members of the department arrested for various offenses including burglary, theft, and falsifying a police report.

    I guess the motto in Orange County Sheriff is, “If anyone is going to deprive you of your most cherished freedoms, it’s going to be us, and not the goddamn Governor!”

  22. Civil disobedience to illegal power grabs, not laws, is a wonderful thing.

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