Most Valley sheriffs say they won't enforce California curfew

California's new curfew brought on by a spike in COVID-19 cases will have to be self-policed in the Central Valley.
FRESNO, Calif. -- California's new curfew brought on by a spike in COVID-19 cases will have to be self-policed in the Central Valley.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom orders curfew for most California counties

Local law enforcement agencies, including Fresno, Tulare, Kings, and Merced Counties say they will not be enforcing the limited stay-at-home order which prohibits non-essential activity like social gatherings and dining at restaurants from 10 pm to 5 am.

Officials from Madera County have not yet commented on enforcement.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said she took part in a phone call with California Office of Emergency Services, California Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Thursday.

"We are not going to make criminals out of normally law-abiding citizens," she said. "We have got our hands full with crime real crime issues and this is not a law enforcement issue."

The City of Fresno put out a statement asking residents to voluntarily comply with the order, but added that police would "concentrate on their regular responsibilities to serve and protect the people of Fresno."

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp released a statement on Friday, that said:

"The Fresno County District Attorney's Office will not be initiating criminal charges for any felony or misdemeanor violations of this Order, should any exist in the law. If the State of California creates any further "strike forces" with State resources, and requests criminal charges be filed in the County of Fresno, those cases will be referred to Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of the State of California for review and prosecution."

The Merced County Sheriff's Office said it would "not be determining compliance or enforcing any health or emergency orders related to curfews, Thanksgiving, or other social gatherings inside or outside the home".

The Tulare County Sheriff's Office announced it would continue to focus on calls where there is an immediate threat to life and/or public safety.

The Kings County Sheriff's Office said they will also not be enforcing the order and they would elaborate on Friday.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly placed the responsibility of the curfew on Californians.

Dr. Ghaly said local jurisdictions have the option to use the order as a tool to reduce transmission of the virus.
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