Letter to the Editor from Sheriff Sam Zordel

July 20th, 2020
REF: Governor’s Executive Order Mandating the Wearing of Masks

While I have never liked the saying often told to young children, in my presence, “You better be good or the Sheriff will arrest you”. This executive order feels very much the same.

Addressing the Executive Order from Governor Polis that everyone must wear a mask, it is important to understand all the important things this order effects. It is also important that everyone understand the true impact this letter is likely to have on our community in the next step from the State, in the phase called Protect Our Neighbors. If we don’t believe that the State isn’t keeping track and won’t use this against us, we are mistaken. Prior criteria from the State when concerning a variance has needed approval from the Commissioners, Public Health, and Prowers Medical Center. The next step “P.O.N.” will also require a letter from me and a few others, expressing our commitment to support the containment plan, the Local Public Health Director as their agency works to achieve thresholds, and that my Office will use available tools and resources to encourage and educate the community with the containment plan. While, I am fully supportive of getting our businesses, economy, schools, etc., back to fully functioning, I cannot allow my Office to be used as a threat against the people of the community who are trying to do the right things for themselves, their families, and their livelihoods.

First, let us address businesses. Businesses are licensed through the state and many are subjected to mandates concerning public health even during regular business. So, the No Shirt, No Shoes, “No Mask”, No Service approach is likely going to have an effect on how they conduct business. If they don’t comply with requirements, eventually someone will complain and Public Health will either eventually shutter them or the State will pull their business license. We don’t want any of our businesses to have to close, because of the mask mandate. Which means even though I don’t wear a mask, I usually carry one, if the business asks me to put it on, I
probably will or I will leave. I ask that you have the same courtesy for the business, because they are trying to comply to keep the doors open for us. They do have a right to refuse service and to ask you to leave. Failing to leave when asked will likely be deemed trespassing. Again, they aren’t doing it because they want to be mask Nazis, they are doing it to keep the door open so you can get the services you and the rest of the community want and need.

Next, as previously stated my Office will not be enforcing the mandate, while it says it bears the weight of law, it cannot be looked up to determine the requirements, penalties, or exceptions, it is unenforceable. This is a civil order aimed at enforcement by public health, which is why it mandates businesses to turn people away or have them trespassed. Public Health has to exhaust its recourse before the actual crime of failing to obey a public health order should be enforced. Many of you may have been keeping track of Colorado’s newest police reform law SB20-217.

Here the Legislature made a law and I will paraphrase; that it is unlawful for any governmental authority, to include law enforcement, to deprive persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitutions or laws of the United States or the State of Colorado. As you can draw upon first, the fact that this has always been the case and secondly, as to how attempting to enforce a “law” such as an executive order, where there are no legislative review or scrutiny, no requirements, penalties, or defenses, could easily result in a Constitutional violation or in the case of this new law, a violation of law.

To close, I know this is debated daily and some people likely won’t agree with this information, however, we all owe it to our businesses to keep them up and running. Be kind and courteous to the employees and other customers, no need to cause any problems for the business by wanting to argue and fight about a mask. I encourage you to take the necessary actions, you feel will safeguard the health and well-being of you and your family. I encourage you to be a good patron to your businesses and help your community any way you can. Also keep in mind, this is only my office and how we will operate, I have no control of operations of other law enforcement agencies in the county.

Sheriff Sam Zordel – Prowers County

Filed Under: Law EnforcementLetters to the Editor

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