Newsom vows crackdown on coronavirus scofflaws. Will law enforcement cooperate?

In April, Plumas County barber Steve Betts became one of the first Californians to face a criminal penalty for violating coronavirus health orders when he refused to close his two shops.

After local sheriff’s deputies warned him twice, they cited him on their third visit. Now, due back in court in August, he faces six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each day he refused to shut down, he said.

“It just sucks, but at the same time I’m not sorry I did it,” said Betts, whose businesses have since been legally allowed to open.

“For them to just shut us down for no good reason other than (Gov. Gavin) Newsom … it was more or less just games being played.”

Wednesday, as hospitalizations and positive tests for the virus skyrocket in many parts of the state, Newsom announced that it was once again closing time for bars, restaurants and other high-traffic businesses in 19 counties. And this time, he wasn’t playing games, though he acknowledged the challenge was real.

“Enforcement is a difficult one, and I am not naive about that … not Pollyannish about it,” Newsom said.

Unlike past orders, when the governor largely stressed civic duty as the motivating force for compliance and left enforcement decisions in the hands of local governments, he turned up rhetoric on possible state crackdowns.

He announced “strike teams” from agencies that license barbers and bars, and the California Highway Patrol — one of the only California law enforcement agencies directly controlled by the state.

“We have I think a responsibility … to go after people who are thumbing their noses, being aggressive, being reticent,” Newsom said.

But exactly what would additional enforcement in California mean? It is not entirely clear, and it has raised questions for local law enforcement, who have grappled from the start of the pandemic on their role.

While some law enforcement leaders have been stalwart in enforcing health orders, others have flat out refused.

The variety of responses highlights the local nature of policing and creates a quandary for state leaders who agree a unified message is vital to focus public attention.

Source: Yahoo