It is no secret that we are going through a very difficult time with the COVID-19 virus present in our County. Many things have changed over the past few months as non-essential businesses have temporarily closed under order of the Governor. In addition, protocols are in place to drastically reduce the spread of this virus through social distancing and personal health protection.
As Sheriff, I have been asked many questions regarding this pandemic and what may occur if these measures remain in place for an extended time. It is my intent to answer these questions and hopefully calm any fears or reservations you may have.
First and foremost, I wish to say that we will get through this trying time together. It is vital that we all do our part, and adhere to CDC guidelines to minimize the spread of the virus. This must be a conscious and collected effort by everyone. The best way to combat this pandemic is to conduct yourself as if you were infected, whether this is the case or not. This will give you the proper perspective of social distancing and appropriate hygiene measures.
I have been asked several times about my position as it pertains to enforcing the orders set forth by the Governor. I have also been asked if Martial Law may be present in the coming months. Before I answer both of these questions, I will share this with you.
Thirty years ago, when I first became a deputy sheriff, I took an oath to defend the United States and Arizona Constitutions against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. When I took office as your Sheriff in 2017, I reaffirmed this pledge and will always stand in protection of your God given rights. I make this statement to assure you that the Sheriff’s Office will continue to perform its mandated duties, with the rights of the people at the forefront.
My primary concern is the safety of our citizens. I am very proud of the manner in which Mohave County citizens have responded to this crisis. Self-compliance is being conducted by all non-essential businesses requiring no law enforcement action to date. In the event of non-compliance, the Mohave County Department of Public Health should be contacted and will investigate and educate. Per the Governors order, prior to any enforcement action taken, the person shall be notified and given an opportunity to comply. Further non-compliance may result in criminal charges against the individual in violation. In all cases, we will not allow the safety of all to be compromised by the actions of one.
Ideally, I believe that full compliance countywide will be adhered to until such time the order is lifted. This is where common sense prevails. Violation of the order will only bring unnecessary legal and financial burden to an already tenable situation.
In regards to Martial Law, this should never come to pass. In order for Martial Law to take effect, a complete and utter social breakdown must occur, followed by lawlessness to a level that makes local and state law enforcement ineffective. This would jeopardize the life and well-being of the masses and would require a strong lock down state to restore order.
In the case of the current pandemic, Martial Law should be of no concern to the public. We have no intention, and will not attempt to control people’s individual movement, as long as their actions do not deliberately jeopardize the health and well-being of others. We do ask that each and every one of us exercise due diligence, stay informed, and adhere to the social distancing guidelines that are in place for a reason.
The last issue I would like to discuss is potential criminal activity associated with this pandemic. Criminals will always look to seize on opportunities to take advantage of others and/or willfully break the law. This will not change during this time and in fact we may see a marked increase in fraudulent schemes cases reported. Please ensure that you do not give out personal information over the phone. No government agency will ever require you to pay anything over the telephone and if this should be asked of you, hang up and report it to your local law enforcement agency.
As always, crime will not be tolerated in Mohave County and the Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide the services and protection that the citizens expect and deserve.
Stay safe, stay aware, and continue to handle this situation with the patience and respect you have shown
Sheriff Doug Schuster
Mohave County Sheriff’s Office