State police: No more verbal warnings for those who violate public health orders
July 15, 2020
New Mexico State police will no longer issue verbal warnings or "cease and desist" orders to businesses that violate the governor's public health orders.
That's according to Lt. Ramon Terrazas, who informed officers under his command in an email this week.
"If the business is found to not be compliant you need to issue the non-traffic citation for violation of a public health order," the email reads.
NMSP Public Information Officer Ray Wilson on Thursday confirmed Terrazas sent the email.
"The New Mexico State Police (have) always been committed to (ensuring) the health and safety of the citizens and visitors of this state," Wilson said. "As the danger to the public from this public health crisis continues to increase, we too as an agency must increase our attempts to protect the citizens that call New Mexico home.
"NMSP will continue to respond, investigate, and cite citizens or businesses who refuse to adhere with the amended Emergency Public Health Order."
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on June 30 extended an order that requires New Mexicans wear personal protective face coverings in public. The latest order also closes restaurant dining rooms. Those who violate the orders are subject to fines up to $100 and county jail terms up to six months.
State police had been issuing warnings to first-time offenders, but Terrazas wrote in his email issued Wednesday that, “We received new directions from headquarters today.”
"New Mexico State Police will ensure the public and places of business adhere to this mandate," Wilson said.
Citations can be issued by all state and local law enforcement agencies, though many city agencies have said they will not enforce the orders because “concern was raised by municipal governments about the enforceability of certain components of the Governor’s Public Heath Order,” according to a “Memo to governor:” published Wednesday in the Albuquerque Journal. The memo was signed by mayors from 16 New Mexico cities.
Clovis Mayor Mike Morris was among those who signed the letter published in response to a recent op-ed by the governor.
The mayors said they were responding to Lujan Grisham's July 8 op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal in which she had “sought partners at every opportunity" and that “local governments and public safety agencies have passed the buck.”