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Bianco: Riverside County Sheriff’s will not respond to calls solely based on not complying with curfew rules

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco released a statement addressing the state's new 10 p.m. curfew order.

Full Details: California implements 10 pm curfew for counties in purple tier

Bianco noted that while important to take the steps necessary to protect oneself from the coronavirus, the department will continue its policy of not enforcing public health orders.

"It has been the policy of the Sheriff’s Department to encourage responsible behavior and compliance with the Governor’s orders," Bianco writes.

Bianco wrote that the Sheriff's Department will not respond to reports that are just non-compliance of public health orders.

"To ensure constitutional rights are not violated and to limit potential negative interactions and exposure to our deputies, we will not be responding to calls for service based solely on non-compliance with the new order or social distancing and mask guidelines," Bianco added.

This has been a position Bianco repeatedly publicly announced several times since California's original stay-at-home order was issued.

In May, a speech he made on why the department wouldn't enforce public health orders at a Board of Supervisors went viral. Bianco told supervisors that he would refuse to "make criminals out of business owners, single moms, and otherwise healthy individuals for exercising their constitutional rights."

He later appeared on Fox News, telling host Steve Doocy, "You can't arrest somebody for going out and exercising in public or not wearing a mask."

Bianco also questioned the government's role in being able to decide what job is essential or non-essential.

The sheriff was criticized by Congressman Raul Ruiz on News Channel 3 back in July for his position on enforcement.

"When you have a sheriff who flat out thinks that wearing masks or stay at home policy is a socialist liberal agenda, it creates mixed messages, and if he is publicly stating how he is not going to enforce, it puts in people's minds that it's not important enough to wear a mask. Or that this is a political issue. It's not. It's a public health issue," Ruiz said.

Other local police agencies have also taken the approach of compliance through education. Meaning rather than arrest people for not following orders, officers would speak with people about the issue.

Indio Police spokesperson Ben Guitron confirmed their department is continuing with this approach for the new orders.

"Our enforcement actions have been very minimal," Guitron told News Channel 3.

The State's Public Health Secretary mentioned in the announcement of the new stay-at-home order that their idea of the order is not to arrest people for going out to walk their dogs at night, but rather to discourage gatherings at places like restaurants or bars.

As far as actual enforcement efforts in the city, however, the city of Palm Springs did set-up code compliance efforts where officers issue fines and citations if businesses and people aren't following public health orders.

"We're not trying to get in any verbal or physical altercation with people not wearing their face coverings. But at the same time, they have to understand that we will issue a citation if they refuse to comply with not wearing a face covering," Palm Springs Lieutenant Mike Villegas told News Channel 3 in August.

For other areas of the county, Riverside County set up a website to report COVID-19 violations. The city of Indio also set-up its own reporting site for businesses.

The new curfew orders only affect counties in the purple tier, which includes Riverside County and approximately 94% of the state's population.

Riverside County has been in the purple since October 20, after experiencing an increase in cases and hospitalizations.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.

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Jesus Reyes

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