Sheriff Helms voices opposition to home gathering limit

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Sheriff Mark Helms is the latest to announce his office will not enforce Governor Cuomo’s ten-person limit at private gatherings.

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Cortland County’s chief law enforcement officer took a strong stand in a statement posted to Facebook.

In part, it reads: “Even if I had enough officers to address this issue, which I definitely do not, this Executive Order raises serious constitutional questions.”

Helms cited privacy and warrantless searches as examples of freedoms being abused.

He joins a growing group of Upstate sheriffs in public opposition to the directive, including those in Cayuga, Madison and Onondaga Counties.

See the full text below from the CCSD Facebook post, which has so far been shared more than 500 times:

“Due to the many questions I’ve received regarding the enforcement of the Governors Executive Order 202.74 limiting the gatherings in private homes to no more than 10 people, I wanted to let everyone know that the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing this directive.

Even if I had enough officers to address this issue, which I definitely do not, enforcement of this Executive Order raises serious constitutional questions. The right to privacy in the home, the right to be free from warrantless searches, the right to equal treatment under the law, just to name a few of the constitutional questions.

Although I agree that we all have to do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19. Having a loosely written directive suggesting law enforcement should monitor how many people are in one’s house at one time is not only problematic, but it basically limits an officer to friendly persuasion urging common sense. Law enforcement officers enforce criminal statutes, not executive diktats.

I hope that everyone will continue to wear masks when applicable as well as do their best to limit any gatherings they may have or attend. The Cortland County Health Department is working diligently to do all that they can to help keep us safe from COVID-19. Please help them by doing your part to stop the spread of COVID-19 while enjoying your holiday season.”

 – Sheriff Mark Helms

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