Christina Rodriguez & Megan Abundis
Updated: April 27, 2020 10:26 PM
Created: April 27, 2020 12:28 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Both the Roosevelt and Lea County Sheriff's Office have posted statements on Facebook declaring that they will not be enforcing the public health mandates set by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH).
In the statements, they recognize the hardship that local businesses have faced and that they see the need to re-open businesses. Both posts acknowledge that New Mexico State Police have a responsibility to respond to complaints about COVID-19 concerns.
The post by the Roosevelt County Sheriff's Office also points out that "if they do not receive a complaint, they do not respond."
Both of the sheriff's offices said that they will support the rights of business owners to open their businesses — but that the businesses do so "discreetly and responsibly." Both posts suggest that businesses should keep doors closed and locked while limiting the number of patrons inside.
Roosevelt Sheriff Malin Parker said he supports local county businesses opening up with the same guidelines big box stores have, and he feels the frustration mounting from his constituent’s.
“Has it become a threatening situation?” said Sheriff Parker. “I don't think so not yet, but I feel like we're on the cusp of that threatening situation, you know, people are, I guess, for lack of a better term, they're tired of being told what they have to do. People are just getting so, morally compromised it's just, it's turning into a much worse situation than they believe that the actual sicknesses in, at least in our part of the states where the numbers are so low.”
Sheriff Parker said while he believes coronavirus is a real problem, he also says restrictions should be different in areas where case numbers are lower.
In response, the governor's office shared the following statement:
"Elected officials attempting to disregard live-saving public health orders are putting the health of the communities at risk, which is deeply disappointing and troubling. Nothing about the public health order changes just because the sheriffs are choosing to ignore the importance of saving lives. Any non-essential business that opens in violation of the public health order, which carries full legal weight, could incur legal consequences. There are both civil and criminal penalties. State Police continue to be doing essential work across the state to enforce the public health emergency order and ensure that New Mexicans are not conducting themselves in ways that endanger their health or the health of their community, and they will continue to do that work statewide."
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