Modoc County sheriff says he won’t enforce California curfew

ALTURAS, Calif. — The sheriff of a rural northern California county says his agency won’t enforce Governor Gavin Newsom’s curfew order.

Starting on the night of November 21, the vast majority of  Californians will be asked to avoid contact with anyone who isn’t a member of their immediate household between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

The curfew, enacted to help curb the spread of coronavirus, met with opposition from Modoc County Sheriff Tex Dowdy.

It should be noted that at the time this article was published, Modoc County was one of 11 California counties not subject to Newsom’s executive order.

Sheriff Dowdy issued the following statement one day before the curfew takes effect:

Modoc County has 26 active cases of COVID-19. Modoc County Public Health has been managing this health emergency. Today, the Governor announced a statewide Limited Stay at Home Order for counties in the “Purple” tier on his blueprint for reducing COVID-19, that will be in affect from 11/21/2020 to 12/21/2020. Modoc County is currently in the “Red” tier.
After many inquiries and the social angst that we have today, I want Modoc County residents to know that in no way will the Modoc County Sheriff’s Office be enforcing this health order or others that may follow. It is my belief that curfews and travel restrictions directed to our residents touch upon fundamental constitutional rights and thus are subject to strict judicial scrutiny. I will not restrict the movement of free citizens nor will I ask my deputies to.
Over the course of 8 months, the Governor has asked us to adapt, adjust and improve to help reduce the spread. We have followed his goals and roads to recovery and everchanging curve. It is unrealistic, unsustainable and irresponsible to ask California residents to shut down again. Our economic and mental health are just as important as our physical health.
I fully support our local health officials and feel that it would be in the best interest of our residents to be able to respond to this pandemic at the local level. The blanket mandates put out by the state simply do not work for a County such as ours. I am confident that Modoc County residents can and will make responsible decisions on their own to protect themselves from this virus. Having this choice is their right as Americans.
Our staff will not be regulating compliance, enforcing emergency orders related to curfews, travel, holidays or social gatherings. Furthermore, we do not have the resources to focus on such calls of these complaints. As always, if there is a potential for criminal activity or a situation impacts public safety, we will respond appropriately.
The County is working collaboratively with partners to minimize public anxiety and keep everyone informed and educated about practices that will reduce the spread of the virus. For updated information about the COVID-19 incident, visit the Modoc County Public Health website at
Please take the normal precautions that you would during any flu season. We will continue to work with our County partners and our focus will always be the safety of our residents. We ask all of our residents and visitors to be responsible, be patient and be kind to one another.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday.
Sheriff Tex Dowdy
Modoc County

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