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Sheriff Schuster talks virus enforcement on Fox News

This screenshot captured from YouTube shows Fox News host Tucker Carlson, left, interview Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster about his decision not to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s lockdown orders.

This screenshot captured from YouTube shows Fox News host Tucker Carlson, left, interview Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster about his decision not to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s lockdown orders.

KINGMAN – Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster was recently a guest on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, where he doubled down on his decision not to enforce Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order.

“I want to be very clear. This is not the country that I grew up in,” the sheriff told Carlson on Thursday, May 7. “I never thought I’d see a day when hardworking Americans are criminalized for trying to make a living supporting their family.”

Schuster said when looking at the situation through a constitutional lens, “it’s obvious to me that we have a lot of overreach, which is very damaging.”

“According to the Constitution, the last time I checked, the law of the land, in order for a law to be constitutional it must fairly apply to all of our citizens equally, and that’s not the case out here,” Schuster said. “Having said that, I made the statement that I am not going to make criminals out of people who are trying to make a living, and I stand behind that statement.”

Carlson then asked the sheriff if Ducey believes “he has the right to supersede the Constitution.”

“I haven’t personally spoken with Gov. Ducey; I’m sure the man is doing what he feels is best,” Schuster said. “The concern I have is you’re talking about guidelines that are coming from the CDC that are turned into executive orders which are now being brought into law, and we’re literally making it a crime to try and make a living.”

The sheriff said he wouldn’t stand for that. He also spoke to the differences between Mohave County and more populated parts of the state, such as Maricopa County. Carlson asked why Maricopa County rules should apply to a less-populated area such as Mohave County.

“Mohave County is a very rural county; we are very widespread,” he said. “And a lot of our county borders up to California, Utah and Nevada. We continue to see a large influx of people coming in, enjoying the summer, the activities that Arizona has to offer, specifically Mohave County. And yet we’re telling our locals to stay in lockdown and that if they leave their houses or if they dare go to work, there could be criminal repercussions.”

The sheriff said many businesses are open in his hometown of Lake Havasu City, while others are being told they can’t open even if they adhere to safety precautions.

“No one is trying to downplay the COVID virus; we want everyone to be safe,” Schuster said. “But I think the American public is smart enough to make their own choices and decisions at this point.”

Ducey’s stay-at-home order is extended through May 15, but some businesses have already been allowed to reopen.

Schuster’s TV appearance was a topic at the Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, May 11.

“So far the county, through our sheriff’s department, said it would not enforce social distancing or any of those directions from the governor,” said District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson. He asked where residents concerned with how particular businesses are following safety guidelines to prevent COVID-19 spread should submit their complaints.

In such cases, state licensing agencies should be contacted, Clerk of the Board Ginny Anderson said.

“People still can make a complaint to the environmental health department,” Chairwoman Jean Bishop said, referring to a division of the Mohave County Department of Public Health.

“We can receive those complaints,” county Public Health Director Denise Burley said. She said that in such instances Public Health reaches out to a business and educates them about the governor’s executive order and asks them to comply.

“What I heard the sheriff say is that any complaints regarding the executive order, he wanted filtered through his office before he sends any deputies out,” Bishop said. “I heard him saying not that he wasn’t going to enforce any orders; he was going to screen those calls himself and see which ones his office would go out on. That was my interpretation.”

“And,” Burley said, “we’ve been instructed by the sheriff (that) if there is a complaint and someone is not complying, we would forward that to him specifically and he will follow up.”

“I guess that’s different from what I’ve been told and Fox News reported ...,” Johnson said, referring to reports the sheriff will not be enforcing the governor’s orders.

Johnson said if Schuster is actually following up on the complaints, he didn’t have further questions.

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