Updated: July 30, 2020 10:16 PM
Created: July 30, 2020 08:27 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is suing the Lea County Sheriff's Office for refusing to enforce the governor's public health order.
The attorney general accuses Sheriff Corey Helton and his Lea County deputies of requesting restaurants allow indoor dining, which is a violation of the governor's order.
Court documents allege the department's actions show the public they don't need to follow the rules.
The attorney general is asking a judge to direct the department to follow the health order.
"It is deeply disappointing that any public official finds themselves in a position where they pick and choose which things they will enforce or not," the governor said in her Thursday news briefing.
A photo of deputies eating inside a restaurant was posted on the Lea County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. The caption says, "We're not there to enforce the governor's mandate. We're there to grab a bite and support our local businesses!"
Court documents state that business was operating without a food service permit.
"If you don't want to be a sheriff, don't run to be a sheriff," the governor said. "Do something else. But you gotta enforce the law."
The attorney general said the sheriff's actions increase the chances of COVID-19 spreading, and make it more likely that school and business closures will continue.
Lea County Undersheriff Michael Walker said in a statement that he appreciates the support from the communities. He claims that since the New Mexico Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue of indoor dining, the governor's order is not in effect.
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