Fresno, CA – Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said her deputies won’t be out enforcing shelter-in-place orders because they’re too busy locking up all the inmates who were released because of “zero-dollar bail” policies.
“We’ve got our hands full trying to re-arrest people that are released due to zero-dollar bail,” Sheriff Mims told the host of the “Trevor Carey Show.”
California’s “zero-dollar bail” policy went into effect in October of 2019 and has been credited with a sharp uptick in crime statewide.
But the problem was further aggravated when California granted early release to 3,500 inmates in March “in an effort to reduce crowding as coronavirus infections begin spreading through the state prison system,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Sheriff Mims said that throughout the pandemic lockdown, sheriff’s deputies have encouraged “voluntary compliance” but have not attempted to enforce the pandemic guidelines issued by the state.
“We do not stop the public to find out what they’re doing when they’re not sheltering in place. We don’t ask those questions, we don’t ask if they’re ‘essential,’” the sheriff explained.
She pointed out that the authorities got really good compliance from the Fresno community over Easter weekend when the parks were closed but stayed mostly vacant.
However, over Mother’s Day weekend, the parks remained closed under California Governor Gavin Newsom’s shutdown order, but there were people there anyway who parked outside the gates and walked in, according to the sheriff.
Sheriff Mims said people had had enough and “want to be able to do what they’ve normally done.”
She said the change in residents’ behavior between Easter and Mother’s Day was “an indication that it’s time to start easing up on the shelter in place, it’s time to have some measured rules in place to reopen, but it’s time to reopen.”
“Unfortunately, the governor’s plans on what it takes to reopen are very, very strict and it’s hard to meet that criteria,” the sheriff lamented.
She said the governor’s plan to which she was referring calls for each jurisdiction to have zero deaths in 14 days before moving into a phased re-opening.
Sheriff Mims said the community and law enforcement were ready to get out of their homes and back to normal.
She told Trevor Carey that domestic violence calls in her county went up by 72 percent in the first two weeks of the lockdown.
As of May 19, 78,839 Californians have tested positive for coronavirus and 3,261 have died, according to Bing’s COVID-19 Tracker.