Sonoma Sheriff Goes His Own Dubious Way on Health Order

The Sonoma County Sheriff decided that he is more important than the Board of Sups and the county Health Officer. In a highly political and rather Trumpy Facebook post, the Sheriff announced that his dept will not enforce the order because… transparency? 

For a full response, I highly recommend fully reading Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins facebook response, but here is a  relevant snippet:

While there is no guide to pandemic era leadership, there are some things that are pretty clearly a bad idea. These include purposefully sowing fear and confusion in the community, pointedly undermining the vested authority of other officials, and creating counterproductive divisiveness in government — without at least first giving collaboration a try.
The Sheriff’s action was three for three.

Note that he posted this without alerting the Board of Supervisors or other county officials. Meanwhile, the Santa Rosa PD Chief has already announced that they will continue enforcement, as have other county police departments. (

This decision sows confusion at an already difficult time. West County, which relies on the Sheriff for all law enforcement, had a very difficult weekend with visitors coming to the beach and parking/relieving themselves wherever they wanted when they saw facilities were closed.

This sets an awful precedent at a time that Sonoma County, and all the counties are trying to open up. Even now, some counties are having to move towards tightening up because of new community spread infections. Now is not the time for sheriff departments to go rogue. We are all in this together, but there must be better communication. The one thing we do not need is law enforcement personnel substituting their own judgement for that of our health officials.

For what it is worth, the Sheriff’s facebook post basically only says that they will no longer arrest and book people for solely health order violations. Which, from the traffic and widespread violations on Sonoma County Coast that I saw this weekend, there was no real enforcement anyway. This facebook post seems to be something of an announcement of political values rather than anything actually substantive. But what it clearly does is spread confusion and encourages further violations of the health orders.

This Sheriff was first elected in 2018, so he has a couple of years before facing election again.