Sheriff Brian BeGole. Photo courtesy the Michigan Sheriffs Association.
Sheriff Brian BeGole. Photo courtesy the Michigan Sheriffs Association.

The Owosso barber who defied an order to remain closed was able to do so because Shiawassee County’s sheriff is the latest Michigan sheriff to refuse to enforce Whitmer’s orders.

SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, MI — The story of a barber who refused to adhere to an order to keep his business closed has overshadowed an important element of the conversation in Owosso. That being, Sheriff Brian BeGole joins a growing number of rural Michigan sheriffs refusing to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders. 

“I have decided within my authority that our office cannot and will not divert our primary resources and efforts towards enforcement of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders,” Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole wrote.

Though BeGole said his reasoning was based on limited resources, WEYI noted that the department posted on Facebook that officers swore an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Michigan. 

READ MORE: Rural Michiganders Have A Different Set of Problems Riding Out the Pandemic

That echoes the sentiment shared by other rural Michigan sheriffs refusing the order The ‘Gander has reported on

“We believe that we are the last line of defense in protecting your civil liberties,” a statement from four northern Michigan sheriffs said. “Together, as a community, we will overcome this pandemic, and as Americans, we will persevere and come out stronger than before. As sheriffs of your community we want you to know we have your back and will continue to serve the people who have entrusted us with your protection.”

The Shiawassee County Sheriff’s statement on refusal to enforce also specifically called into question the legality of Gov. Whitmer’s coronavirus protections in light of the several legal battles The ‘Gander has reported have risen in opposition to continued stay-at-home orders, including one from the Michigan Legislature. 

Though it should be noted that in advising Michigan sheriffs and other law enforcement officials, Attorney General Dana Nessel said Whitmer’s orders were lawful and should be enforced according to the Detroit Free Press. That advice came before BeGole’s decision. 

While the revoking of that Owosso barber’s business permits have sidestepped Sheriff BeGole, BeGole’s refusal to enforce the order is part of a trend of Michigan’s law enforcement officials refusing to follow executive orders that Nessel told constituents was concerning. 

READ MORE: This Barber Would Rather Risk Jail Than Unemployment: ‘I Don’t Need the Governor to Be My Mother”

Whitmer, too, has reminded Michiganders and Michigan’s sheriffs that executive orders have the full force of law.

“These executive orders are not a suggestion, they’re not optional, they’re not helpful hints,” she said in a Monday press briefing. “This is an order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is a deadly virus, so that we can save lives. And I expect all Michiganders to comply with the law, unless and until a court decides to the contrary.”

And in an op-ed, the CEO of Beaumont Health said it’s done just that. 

“Back on March 25, we were in a dire situation,” CEO John Fox wrote. “We got to see firsthand the ferocity and speed of this pandemic as well as the damage it can do to patients and the related loss of human life. We are all now appropriately focusing on how we control the pandemic more effectively going forward and thus enabling the safe return to work across our communities.”

It;s also been noted by The ‘Gander that even if the spread of the virus in rural communities has been slow, relaxing restrictions too quickly could and likely would cause it to spread far faster.