New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had some harsh words for law enforcement that say they will not enforce his Thanksgiving mandate in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor is limiting gatherings to ten people including on Thanksgiving day.
The imposed rule by Cuomo took effect on Friday and it didn’t take long for sheriffs across the state to balk at the enforcement demand by the Governor.
An upstate sheriff said that he would not enforce it saying he would never interfere with “the great tradition of Thanksgiving dinner.”
Another sheriff in the southern part of the state said this his deputies would not be “peeking in windows.”
In a news release, Broome County Sheriff David E. Harder says he finds Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order to limit households to 10 people is “against our constitution.”
Harder says the order has caused “great concern” for the county’s residents, saying:
The Governor has responded by dismissing those serious concerns on the part of local law enforcement, saying “law enforcement officers don’t get to pick and choose which laws they will enforce”. I find that comment ironic and disingenuous, since the Governor has directed that his own 5,000 State Police NOT enforce his own Executive Order.
“It is unenforceable,” said Steve McLaughlin, a Rensselaer County executive, stating that he believes “…. .it’s unconstitutional as does pretty much every sheriff I’ve spoken to.”
The defiance did not set well with Cuomo, who announced that he would be having his elderly mother over for Thanksgiving earlier this week.
Cuomo came out swinging against law enforcement who have refused enforce the mandate.
“You don’t have a right to pick laws that you think you will enforce, and you don’t enforce laws that you don’t agree with,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That’s not a law enforcement officer, that’s a dictator- so you’re not a law enforcement officer.”
In a statement Monday, the Sheriffs’ Association pushed back against the governor’s comments. It says agencies have responded to thousands of complaints since the onset of the pandemic, and it believes the best approach is to educate the public about health mandates and encourage that they be followed.
It argues that the governor’s instructions can’t be practically enforced and that he should be encouraging citizens to voluntarily follow health officials’ guidance.
“We do not know if the governor’s limit on home gatherings to ten individuals is the right number or not,” the organization’s statement read. “That is a decision for science, not us, to make. We do know, however, that the governor has attempted to foist upon local law enforcement an impossible task. How are officers to know, without violating citizens’ right to privacy and other Constitutional rights, how many people are in the home? How are they to determine if the family gathering is to be deemed “essential” or “nonessential”? If twelve people normally reside in the home, are the officers to order two of them to move out? If eleven individuals are found to be present in the home, who is to be charged with violating the order, all eleven or just the last guest to arrive? Or is it only the homeowner who is in violation? Are officers really supposed to arrest guests who don’t stay six feet apart or who fail to have on their face masks during dinner? All of those are serious questions which make it impossible for law enforcement to know how to legally enforce the governor’s order. They are questions that could have been addressed if we had a functioning State Legislature, creating clear and enforceable laws after input from those who would be impacted by them. Instead we are faced with an unenforceable dictate issued without any consultation with law enforcement or the public as to enforceability.”
The Sheriff’s Association urges citizens to follow health officials’ guidance and limit potential exposure to the virus as much as possible.
“We in law enforcement do not have the resources nor the legal authority to force you to do these things,” the association said. “It is a matter of individual responsibility and we are confident that you will all voluntarily rise to the occasion.”