DEWITT COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — In response to the growing concerns of the county’s residents, Sheriff Mike Walker issued the following statement regarding the Governor’s executive order:
There has been a growing number of citizens expressing their concerns and frustrations over the Governor’s recent actions over the Coronavirus. I have been asked repeatedly what is the DeWitt County Sheriff’s position regarding enforcement of the Governor’s “executive orders” over this matter. So, let me start out first in stating that I am very proud and applaud our DeWitt County citizens in their personal efforts and responsibility in keeping this virus out of this County at levels being experienced elsewhere. We have worked together as responsible citizens in keeping this pandemic at bay and out of our homes. The more we do as individual citizens in practicing safe and responsible distancing, the sooner this plague will end.
Second, I will continue to do and perform as I was initially elected to: protecting the health, safety and welfare of our county and its citizens. If anyone violates a criminal law, they will be arrested. If anyone commits a “trespass” to property or an “assault” upon another, they will be arrested. I was elected to enforce the laws and will continue to enforce the laws. However, an “executive order” by the Governor is NOT THE LAW of the land. That requires our elected representatives in the state legislature to act upon in order to enforce.
I will enforce the laws when they are violated but I will not arrest for a failure to heed a recommendation on how to act whether in a business or out in the general public. If you do not want to protect yourself and not practice safe distancing or wearing of mask, that is your individual decision. It may not be the right one, it may not be the responsible one, but last time I checked there is no ‘escape clause’ in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights allowing for suspension of our constitutional rights when there is a virus plaguing us.
So, in terms of enforcement of the law, we have and will continue to do so when the law needs enforcement. In terms of a decision not to follow the Governor’s ‘executive orders’, that is an individual decision to not follow not a criminal violation of the laws. My office will get involved when that individual decision to not follow interferes with or poses a clear and present danger to the health, safety and welfare of fellow citizens, I will act!
I will enforce the law when you violate the laws. I will not arrest someone who individually decides not to follow recommendations in an ‘executive order’. But, cross that line from individual decision to not follow over to your actions presenting a clear and present danger to the citizens of this County, then I will act appropriately under those circumstances. Refuse to put your mask on in a private establishment when asked, commit a ‘trespass to property’, you will be arrested. Take that mask off and sneeze in someone’s face, possibly committing an ‘assault’, you will be arrested. So, you see, keep your individual decisions to yourself and your (sic) fine but make others pay for it then it becomes crossing that line and jeopardizing the public.
Be mindful of your neighbors, be mindful of your friends and above all be mindful of the senior citizen community within DeWitt County. I will respect your individual decisions so long as you respect theirs. We owe a greater sense of responsibility in our actions when they touch or approach our senior citizen community. I maintain a very thin, very minute thin line when it comes to protection of our seniors. There, I will act first and question later so as to not jeopardize your senior citizens. They deserve all the respect we can muster in this time of concern. We must work together as one community circling our wagons to protect all citizens of DeWitt County.
Be safe and be cautious.Mike Walker
DeWitt County Sheriff