Letters to the Editor: Elected sheriffs would rather pander to COVID deniers than enforce the law

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes speaks at a news conference in August.
(Damon Duran / Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

To the editor: If anyone needs a good reason to support statewide legislation making the county sheriff a position appointed by the Board of Supervisors rather decided by a popular election, the current sheriffs of Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties provide three such reasons. (“What in tarnation is going on with Southern California sheriffs and coronavirus?” column, Dec. 9)

Rather than fulfilling their oaths to faithfully uphold the laws duly passed by our state Legislature or enacted by our county officials or our governor, these three simply announce they won’t enforce anything they personally disagree with.

The fundamental duty of these sworn law enforcement officers is to keep the public safe. The current pandemic is a mortal threat to all of us, and their refusal to enforce public health precautions puts all our lives in danger.


It is time to get rid of all of them and end the popular election of unaccountable sheriffs. This is not Dodge City.

Gordon J. Louttit, Manhattan Beach


To the editor: It is always revealing when a certain segment of the population reaches for the Constitution to back up their “rights.”

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes stated on Fox News that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lockdowns don’t stand the “constitutional test.” How often have we heard these refrains, mainly from white Americans, when they feel their rights have been infringed upon by being told to wear masks and stay home?

As a Black man, I rarely if ever reference the Constitution when my rights are trampled. The Constitution has a different reverence to me. It has never lived up to its ideals for a large segment of us.

So no, your revered document doesn’t quite have the same meaning to me. I’m still trying to have the right to be treated as a human being recognized, not my rights to free speech, carry a weapon or choose my religion.


Rod Lawrence, Los Angeles


To the editor: Columnist Gustavo Arellano supports the idea of law enforcement going around enforcing mask and restaurant closure orders.

Is he kidding? Does he really want law enforcement doing this?

People are so split on these COVID-19 safety measures; combine that with all this anti-police sentiment going around, and you have a recipe for disaster. These sheriffs are correct for not involving their deputies in this enforcement action.

Just look at the situation with the Los Angeles Police Department and the protester with a bullhorn they tried to arrest in front of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s residence. The law in question, against producing sounds that travel more than 200 feet, did not need to be enforced given all the criminal matters police need to attend to right now. Eventually the man would have left on his own, but because the LAPD acted the way it did, it could face another lawsuit.

That is what these law enforcement agencies have in store for them if they enforce mask and restaurant closure orders.

Mario Toti, Los Angeles


To the editor: It’s terrifying to read that those who’ve taken an oath to protect and serve are selectively choosing which laws to enforce and which to ignore based on their own beliefs.

Is this really the way that law enforcement is supposed to work?

Wendy Winter, Altadena


To the editor: I have a question for Arellano.

Would his flippant attitude toward these sheriffs be the same if he suddenly lost his job and income with the Los Angeles Times?

P.G. Harvey, Mission Viejo


To the editor: A conclusion that can be drawn from Arellano’s column is that the sheriffs of Orange and Riverside counties have consumed vast amounts of the Kool-Aid from Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s punch bowl.

Their overindulgence has led them to the conclusion that each of them can pick and choose which laws and orders they enforce.

Unfortunately for all of us who reside in these counties, the sheriffs have become constitutional law and public health experts. The misplaced arrogance of these elected officials contributes to more needless deaths during this pandemic.

Robert Matthews, San Clemente