December 7, 2020
PRESS RELEASE BY SHERIFF SONGER – KLICKITAT COUNTY, WA
Date: November 18th, 2020
To all citizens of Klickitat County, as your Sheriff my position has not changed in regards to the enforcement of Governor Inslee’s Illegal and Unconstitutional orders in regards to COVID-19. Governor Inslee’s latest statewide COVID-19 restrictions starting November 16 at 11:59 PM and remaining in effect until Monday, December 14. The modified restrictions of restaurants, however, will take effect Wednesday, November 18th at 12:01 A.M.
My Deputies will not be enforcing MASK WEARING, INDOOR SOCIAL GATHERINGS, OUTDOOR SOCIAL GATHERINGS, RELIGIOUS SERVICES, WEDDING AND FUNERAL GATHERINGS,OR THE RESTRICTIONS OF RESTAURANT AND BARS, ALONG WITH OTHER BUSINESSES THAT FALL UNDER GOVERNOR Inslee’s most recent COVID-19 Restrictions. If the citizens and business owners of Klickitat County choose to follow Governor Inslee’s COVID-19 restrictions, that is their right to do so. However, if the citizens and business owners of Klickitat County choose NOT TO FOLLOW Governor Inslee’s COVID-19 restrictions, that is their Constitutional Right to do so.
If business owners feel they are being harassed by L&I agents or the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Agents, Please call me at 509-261-1833.
ANOTHER WASHINGTON SHERIFF’S ORDER TO CEASE AND DESIST HARASSMENT
November 23, 2020
While the State of Washington strongly recommends the wearing of masks, there is no law in place requiring them. It has been brought to the attention of the Sheriff’s Office that certain businesses have implemented policies denying entry or access to services for those absent a face covering. Regardless of such policies being considered as justified or common, any such policy is in direct violation of Washington State Law and is discriminatory and unlawful.
Individuals without a face covering cannot be considered a direct threat, unless they have been deemed to be contagious by a treating physician with full access to their medical history, and are entitled to equal access at all places of public accommodation (RCW 49.60.030).
Someone who complies with all lawful conditions at places of public accommodation cannot be considered as trespassing. Behavior meant to create a hostile or unsafe environment toward those without a face covering is regarded as Harassment, which is a criminal offense under Washington State Law (RCW 9A.46.020). Harassment is a Gross Misdemeanor punishable by up to a year of jail time and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
The following types of actions toward individuals without a face covering are regarded as Harassment:
§ Subjecting someone to physical restraint such as blocking their entry or restraining their free movement.
§ Being unlawfully detained by police when there is no evidence of trespass. Such action by law enforcement is considered Deprivation of Rights under Color of Law (18 USC Section 242).
§ Threatening someone so as to create concern for their physical or mental health safety, such as calling or purporting to call law enforcement under the guise of a trespass violation.
The Office of the Sheriff is the chief law-enforcement agency in the County with duty to keep peace and uphold the Law in accordance with Federal and State Constitutions. This document serves as an order to cease and desist harassment, which is an unlawful action as outlined above. Whoever chooses to willfully engage in unlawful behavior is committing a criminal offense and is subject to any punishments befitting the offense. In the execution of their duties, the Sheriff may arrest and commit to prison all persons who break the peace, attempt to break it, and all persons guilty of public offenses, which is conduct that is in violation of existing laws and is punishable by laws.
Any questions or concerns related to this order should be addressed to the Sheriff’s Office.
WHY I’M NOT ENFORCING HEALTH OR OTHER ORDERS – SACRAMENTO SHERIFF
December 4, 2020
While I remain in quarantine, there seem to be those (including from the Governor’s press conference today) who can’t resist connecting my contraction of Covid with my official position of not utilizing armed officers to enforce emergency or other orders. Two distinct things.
I have enacted dozens of measures inside our department to keep our employees and the public as safe as possible, including mandatory mask policies. I am responsible for the welfare of over 2,000 employees. Despite those measures, because of the inherent nature of the necessary work we do, the possibility of contracting the virus is an ever-present reality. I personally have not engaged in any reckless behavior, I generally always wear a mask in public, I don’t engage in activities over the recommended numbers, or dine out when it has been against the rules. Three things, incidentally, we know others have done but been lucky enough to escape infection. Also, every one of my public statements on the matter have urged compliance with ALL safety measures. But alas, I still got Covid, not through some high-risk, flagrant disregard of guidelines, but at work. Though some would like to blame me, and as savory as it would be for some to do so, one would similarly have to blame all 14 million Americans that have contracted the virus, not to mention hold almost 300,000 people responsible for their own demise. That certainly defies logic, and is borderline evil.
Now to my refusal to enforce directives–and they seem to come from everywhere. From public health officers who may not be doctors, from various elected officials, though they are not lawyers or court officers charged with guarding the Constitution, and from unelected bureaucrats who are neither elected by, nor accountable to, anyone. The primary reason is practical–we don’t have the staffing. We still do all the same types of things we have always done, and we don’t have additional time or staffing to take on more.
The second reason requires more introspection. There exist serious questions of Constitutionality, probable cause, and reasonable suspicion that guide our actions as law enforcement officers. We can’t guess, we can’t be wrong, and we can’t take the word of politicians, bureaucrats and health officials that they exist. The legislature is charged with enacting laws, yet these groups want to create ‘laws’ that have the same force and effect.
And even if they were enforceable, what level of force would be appropriate for officers to use to enforce them if folks resist compliance? And what if there is tolerance for SOME violations but not others–say a social justice protest versus a wedding? What if a public official violates them, as we’ve seen on the news, should they be arrested? Should violators be cited at the scene and left to continue violating, or should they be booked into jail? Should we use law enforcement to shut down businesses? What level of investigative resources should we dedicate to determine if someone is out of their home for an “essential purpose”? There are clearly more questions than answers.
As for me, one Sheriff in one jurisdiction, I’m not going to put my officers in that position. I am going to encourage folks to continue to call us when they need us, and assure them that we will show up and help in whatever way we can to make the situation better, not worse. I am going to continue as I have from Day 1 of this pandemic, educating folks when necessary so they can continue to make the best decisions for their and their family’s safety.
I hope most folks can respect that.
Marbury v. Madison (1803), Chief Justice Marshall of the Supreme Court wrote, “a law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.” This was the first instance where a court stated that a law passed by Congress and signed by the President was unconstitutional.