On Thursday, April 30th 2020, I made a statement to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors in reference to my position as Sheriff of Mohave County in response to the Governor’s direction for the state as announced via press conference on April 29th.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has created a tremendous amount of fear, confusion, and uncertainty. It is clear that the virus is actively among us and has been for some time. We are at a point where the obvious health concerns are being weighed against our personal liberty and freedom.
From the onset I have been clear that it is recommended and advisable to take any and all precaution, in a united effort to slow the spread of the virus. I fully support social distancing and encourage everyone to continue to do their part. We have all noted a marked change in our daily lives, with lines painted on the ground, changes to the way we dine, and personal protective equipment in use by so many. This clearly demonstrates to me that our citizens are more than capable of using good judgement.
These same law abiding citizens are looking to government leadership for direction and answers. Sending mixed messages and arbitrarily determining which businesses can stay open and which cannot, only lends to the confusion and frustration. We see hotels open and welcoming guests, packed retail stores, busy beaches, and our lakes and rivers overflowing with recreational boaters.
I will not turn otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals who are simply trying to stay afloat and put food on the table. It is easier for those in government who continue to receive paychecks, to recommend staying the course. Unfortunately, this is not an option for so many who are financially struggling on a daily basis.
I am not trying to thwart the Governor’s Executive Orders and I understand that he is in a very precarious position. It is clear to me that he is greatly concerned for the well-being of the state and is doing what he determines is best. The President of the United States ceded the responsibility of re-opening the states to the Governors. As the 15 counties in Arizona are so distinctly different, I believe the Counties should be granted this same consideration.
In any event, as the Elected Sheriff, I in turn must do what I feel is best for the protection of the citizens of Mohave County. I cannot in good conscious, and will not control the legal free movement of others based on directives that I believe are in conflict with the Constitution. Law enforcement should not become the social distancing police. Therefore, I will not issue citations or make arrests in reference to the guidelines stipulated in the Stay at Home Order.
I will ask that all of our citizens continue to exercise good judgement. I implore everyone to make every effort to stay safe and do their part to avoid contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus. Social distancing should still be applied and those with underlying health issues should remain isolated for their own well-being.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, and Stay Diligent.
–Respectfully, Sheriff Doug Schuster