Tazewell County Sheriff Department will not enforce stay at home order, says Pritzker’s orders ‘violates constitutional rights’

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TAZEWELL COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — The Tazewell County Sheriff Department will not enforce the mandated stay-at-home executive order.

Tazewell County Sheriff Jeff Lower says he has heard from numerous concerned people asking about the governor’s current executive order. Lower tells us his office will not arrest people for trying to live their daily lives.

In an email sent to an unknown recipient Thursday, Sheriff Jeffrey Lower wrote that his primary focus is to protect the citizens of Tazewell and their constitutional rights. The email states Lower believes Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is “over-reaching” his powers. Tazewell County Sheriff Jeff Lower says he and his deputies will not write people tickets who don’t follow the order.

“Nowhere in that order does it give me or any of my deputies the authority to act,” Lower said.

This comes just a day after East Peoria mayor John Kahl says his city is beginning to open back up.

“We cant sit around and wait for those answers, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed,” Kahl said.

Leaving residents of the city split on the mayor’s decison.

“I’d rather be safe than end up being sorry,” said resident, Bobby Green.

“People want to come out, they are going come out anyways,” said resident, John Barnwell.

Lower says as an elected official he won’t go against the oath he swore to uphold.

“I’m a constitutional officer, I’m sworn to uphold the Constitution of the state of Illinois and Constitution of the United States.”

Taz Co. Sheriff Jeff Lower

Other police departments in Tazewell County, such as Washington Police have said they will enforce the governor’s order but according to the mayor, East Peoria police will not.

“We’re not enforcing because that’s not our position,” Kahl said.

The Tazewell County Sheriff says how his jurisdiction handles things that might be different than other districts and that there’s no clear right or wrong.

“It’s not for me to tell anyone else what to do there, but on the flip side it’s not for them to tell me how to run my jurisdiction,” Lower said.

Illinois State Police has suggested writing ‘reckless conduct charges’ but lower says that is a serious charge for people not doing anything illegal.

“That’s a very serious charge for someone trying to live their life.”

Lower says numerous people are frustrated with the governor and are ready for the stay at home order to end.

“People feel like they’re being held hostage.”

The sheriff says his deputies will continue to enforce the laws–but only when a real crime is being committed.

Email sent from Tazewell County Sheriff Jeffrey Lower

“I have consistently voiced my opposition to the method that our state government has attempted to threaten and intimidate its citizens to obey his executive orders. It is my belief that his orders are over-reaching government and I will continue to fight against what I believe is a violation of our constitutional rights,” Lower said.

Friday East Peoria Mayor John Kahl said he is allowing businesses within the city to reopen in phases, against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s extended stay-at-home order. As of Friday, nonessential businesses had the option to reopen within city limits, including retailers, shopping centers, salons barbershops, gyms, parks, campgrounds, auto dealerships and more.

Kahl said people should still follow the social distancing guidelines.

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