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Tuolumne Sheriff, Sonora Police Chief Address Governor’s Order

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County Sheriff Bill Pooley and Sonora Police Chief Turu VanderWiel have released statements to the community regarding the governor’s ‘stay at home’ order and its impact on the community.

Sheriff Pooley’s statement:

Many of you received information last night from Governor Gavin Newsom regarding the state of emergency, specifically, Executive Order N-33-20. We received some inquiries last night via social media regarding how the executive order affects Tuolumne County. We are reaching out to provide you the most accurate information regarding the Sheriff’s Office responsibilities pertaining to the order.

First and foremost, the Sheriff’s Office is an essential function to our community that remains unchanged by the governor’s executive order. Some people have asked if there are consequences for violating the executive order. The short answer is, yes. Violating portions of an executive order can be punishable under the law; however, nothing in the executive order changes the Sheriff’s authority to utilize discretion, spirit of the law and common sense when protecting our county. Our primary focus will be to educate people, not rush to enforcement.

We value the intent of the executive order for providing extended authority to best protect all of us from potential infection, especially our elderly, young children and those with compromised immune systems. This shall be the driving force in all decision making associated with enforcement of the executive order. Our community is strong, and we take care of each other, we always have, and we always will.

We don’t anticipate a rise in calls for service in response to the executive order; however, we are prepared to take swift action on those who wish to do harm or see this as an opportunity to commit crimes while people are vulnerable. Our patrols remain constant and we are available to serve you. This is our community and it will take all our efforts to protect our families, neighbors, and friends from illness. We will get past Covid-19 and back to the normal way of life together. We thank you for your continued patience and support, we will continue to provide updates as the situation changes.

-Sheriff Bill Pooley


Chief VanderWiel’s statement:

The Sonora Police Department is in support of the Governor’s order to limit public interactions to those of necessary business and essential needs.

Every order has legal consequences, but the Governor was clear that his order is not intended to be managed with traditional law enforcement means, but through social pressure, licensing enforcement and regulatory enforcement from a business perspective.

We encourage all members of the public to respect the Governor’s order as we all live in this community with our families, and we must do everything we can to protect those of the highest vulnerability and the high-risk population.

This is not a cause for panic or drastic behavior.  If we all work together and act sensibly, we can get back to normal sooner than later.


Turu VanderWiel

Chief of Police

Sonora Police Department