Update: Sheriff Essick Issues New Statement Following Meeting

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UPDATE #2:

At 6 p.m. Friday night, the Sonoma Sheriff Facebook page added this update.”To clarify, the Sheriff’s position stands and we will not be enforcing the county health order starting June 1st.”

UPDATE:

In a 4PM written statement released on his Sonoma Sheriff Facebook page, Sheriff Mark Essick said a virtual meeting with members of the Board of Supervisors and county health officials Friday morning resulted in an agreement to increase communication and collaboration between his office and the county health department.  Importantly says Essick, the county’s public health officer Dr. Sundari Mase and her boss, Barbie Robinson agreed to accept “operational feedback” on future health orders and their “impact on the community.”

While not explicitly saying he will enforce current or future health orders issued by Mase, Essick said “The Sheriff’s Office will continue to educate the community, while evaluating newly available data from our public health partners and collaborating with Public Health to determine enforcement priorities and protocols.”

PREVIOUS STORY FOLLOWS:

During an unusual and highly controversial 24 hours in which the Sonoma County Sheriff announced his department would no longer enforce the county’s shelter-in-place order, there were conflicting reports Friday about whether he would reverse course in the face of withering criticism from other elected officials.

On Friday Board of Supervisors Chair Susan Gorin said Sheriff Mark Essick had changed course and agreed to enforce the stay at home order.  This reportedly came after a joint call with board members, U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson, state Senator Mike McGuire and others including the county’s health officer Dr. Sundari Mase and her boss Barbie Robinson, the director of Sonoma County’s Health Department.

However later in the day the sheriff’s official Facebook page sent a conflicting message.  An update read only that “Contrary to other reports the Sheriff is not reversing his position.”

The sheriff’s letter to the community on Thursday caught most residents and elected officials off guard, and elicited a storm of both praise and condemnation on social media.  It also was met with widespread criticism from elected officials and public safety officers. By 11PM Thursday the county board of supervisors and the Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Healdsburg police departments had all released statements in support of the public health orders and health officer Mase.

According to Gorin, on Friday the board of supervisors received a commitment from the sheriff’s department to “enforce the public health officer orders to the best of their ability.”  Essick was expected to make another written statement, with as of early afternoon Friday it had not been released.

Instead the Facebook update seemed to contradict the account from board chair Gorin.

We will follow the story and continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

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