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‘Ironic, and disingenuous’ sheriffs say of Cuomo on home gathering cap enforcement

The state’s new executive order limiting in-person gatherings inside private homes to 10 people has been met with considerable criticism, including law enforcement wondering how their officers can enforce this rule.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a shot at law enforcement — especially those upstate — Monday for their continued push back against him and his COVID-19 mandates, saying they can’t “pick and choose” what laws they enforce, and law enforcement fired back.

“I don’t consider them a law enforcement officer,” the governor said, “you don’t have the right to pick laws that you don’t want to enforce or don’t agree with. That’s not a law enforcement officer, that’s a dictator.”

No officers were named in Cuomo’s Monday verbal scolding of law enforcement, but he did identify upstate sheriffs as those who have said they will not enforce the governor’s mandate.

“How a law enforcement officer says, ‘I choose not to enforce the law,’ that law enforcement officer violates their condition of duty,” the governor said.

Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli has been one of the sheriffs rather vocal about his opposition to the governor’s continued mandates throughout the pandemic.

Over the summer, the sheriff went on record saying he and his deputies would not be patrolling county bars to enforce state social distancing and mask mandates.

“To me, it’s not a criminal crisis, it’s a health crisis,” Carpinelli previously said. “Why should the police be enforcing a health crisis?”

Carpinelli earlier this year announced his bid to run against Cuomo in 2022.

After Monday’s press conference, the New York State Sheriffs Association issued a three-page letter in response to the governor’s comments, stating the 10-person limit on gatherings in private homes has “caused great consternation among many of our citizens, who envision armed officers arriving at their doors to count the number of people around the Thanksgiving table.”

The letter says this would be “neither practical nor Constitutional.”

In response to the governor’s comment that law enforcement officers can’t “pick and choose” which laws they wish to enforce, the association said it finds the comment “ironic, and disingenuous” as the governor has directed that state police do not need to enforce the order.

The letter continues on to say those in law enforcement are not sure whether the 10-person limit is the right call, or number, to make.

“That is a decision for science, not us, to make,” the letter says.

But they said they do know the onus the governor has put upon law enforcement is an “impossible task.”

“We urge all our citizens to keep informed on the best steps to take to protect themselves, and others, from the spread of this terrible disease. We urge you to listen to our public health officials. We urge you to limit your exposure to those outside your household as much as you reasonably can. If we all do that, we will sooner be able to get back to normal,” the letter reads. “We in law enforcement do not have the resources nor the legal authority to force you to do those things. It is a matter of individual responsibility and we are confident that you will all voluntarily rise to the occasion.”

The letter has since circulated among sheriff departments in the state, with St. Lawrence County Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe being the lone sheriff in the tri-county area to sign the letter as of Monday night.

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