Sheriffs in Kane and Kendall counties say they will not enforce Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders calling for residents to stay at home or businesses and services to remain closed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Governor’s Executive Order is not a law,” said Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird in a statement released on May 13. “The Kendall County Sheriff’s Office will not arrest or fine anyone for solely violating the Governor’s Executive Order. Kendall County does not have an ordinance that would support a fine for not following the Governor’s Executive Order.”
Baird, a Republican elected in 2014 reelected in 2018, said he is not encouraging anyone to defy Pritzker’s executive orders and is only informing the public how his department would respond.
Both Baird and Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said they’ve received numerous inquiries about how their departments would react to apparent violations of the governor’s executive orders.
“It is clear that deputies do not have immunity if they attempt to enforce the orders, and there is no legislated law that applies to the violation of the orders,” said Hain, a Democrat elected in 2018. “Therefore, sheriff’s deputies will not be taking enforcement action against any one person or entity for order violations, without the issuance of a judicial order.”
Both Baird and Hain urged businesses that are licensed by the state or a municipality to consult an attorney about potential liability.
“(But) if someone chooses to open their business, hold church service, have a wedding and/or reception or host a graduation party, the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office will not come and order those activities cease based solely on the Governor’s Executive Order,” Baird said.
Pritzker responded indirectly during his Thursday, May 14 COVID-19 press briefing.
“Nobody is sending police forces in to break up activity across the state,” he said. “What we are doing is enforcing, using lots of different methods by enforcing using our licensing capability and our ability to pull licenses for businesses. … There are lots of ways in which we can enforce we will continue to work on that enforcement.”
Baird said inquiries increased after Pritzker placed Kendall County into a region that includes Cook County as a basis to determine when and how to reopen businesses and services.
“I hope he reconsiders that decision and moves Kendall County into another region more fitting to the community we are,” Baird said.