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Sheriff: Stop threatening State Police

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Lisa Dunlap Photo Hobby Lobby at 4501 N. Main St. in Roswell.

Sheriff Mike Herrington is calling on people to stop leveling threats against New Mexico State Police after they issued the local Hobby Lobby store a cease and desist order.

“I am asking that the threats against the State Police stop immediately. All law enforcement agencies in Chaves County are working every day to fight crime and keep the peace,” he stated Sunday in a message posted on the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Herrington said Tuesday he posted the statement in response to angry rhetoric and threats aimed at State Police for enforcing state public health orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Police, when they receive a complaint, can issue a cease and desist order to a business categorized as nonessential that remains in operation in a manner that doesn’t comply with the public health order. If a business remains in violation they can be served with a citation and forced to pay a fine.

Herrington said people do not understand State Police are not actively seeking out businesses that are in violation but are enforcing the governor’s orders when a violation is reported, as they are required to do.

“And the reason I did what I did is I do not want to see any police officer hurt for following an order,” Herrington said.

Hobby Lobby was served with a cease and desist order by State Police Saturday in response to a complaint that customers were entering the store in violation of the public health order.

In April, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham modified the order to allow retailers and businesses not deemed essential to provide online, curbside and delivery service, however, the order still prohibits customers from entering the actual store space.

State Police in a statement Saturday said after receiving the cease and desist order, the store closed without issues.

Ray Wilson, New Mexico State Police public information officer said Monday that since April 7, State Police have issued four cease and desist orders in Chaves County, but no citations.

Herrington though has been a critic of the public health orders and has issued letters to business owners declaring their businesses essential if they can find some criteria in the order under which they can be considered essential and then remain open.

Hobby Lobby, Herrington said, was one of the 30 or so businesses in the county he had previously provided with a letter.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.