By Bradford Betz
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco on Friday said that his office will not be “blackmailed, bullied, or used as muscle” against county residents to enforce California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus orders.
In a statement, Bianco criticized the Democratic governor’s “dictatorial attitude” toward Californians, while he dined in luxury, traveled, kept his own business open, and sent his kids to in-person private school.
It is “very telling about his attitude toward California residents, his feelings about the virus, and it is extremely hypocritical,” Bianco said.
The sheriff called the state’s metrics to justify stay-at-home orders “flat-out ridiculous” and “unbelievably faulty.”
These metrics, Bianco said, “are not representative of true numbers and are disastrous for Riverside County.”
The sheriff’s comments come as most regions in California are on the brink of another sweeping new lockdown in an attempt to curtail resurgent cases of the coronavirus.
The California Department of Public Health on Saturday said the intensive care unit capacity in Southern California and Central Valley hospital had fallen below a 15% threshold that triggers the new measures, which include strict closures for businesses and a ban on gathering with anyone outside of your own household. The new measures will take effect Sunday evening and remain in place for at least three weeks, meaning the lockdown will cover the Christmas holiday.
Bianco suggested that threats coming from the governor’s office appeared to be “part of the new goal to shift attention away from his and others’ personal behavior with a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude by turning public opinion against California sheriffs.”
“Leaders do not threaten, attempt to intimidate, or cause fear; bullies do,” Bianco said.
The sheriff then appealed to Riverside County residents’ common sense by asking them to “act responsibly and do what they can to protect themselves and their family from contracting the virus.”
“While the governor’s office and the state has threatened action against violators, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will not be blackmailed, bullied, or used as muscle against Riverside County residents in the enforcement of the Governor’s orders,” Bianco said.
Newsom’s office was not available for a request for comment.
Bianco’s refusal to enforce the governor’s orders is not new. Earlier in the pandemic, he openly refused to make criminals out of business owners he said were law-abiding and exercising their constitutional rights and providing for their families.
In neighboring San Bernardino County, the sheriff’s office also said on Friday that it will not utilize law enforcement patrols to enforce Newsom’s latest coronavirus mitigation orders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.