A Constitutional Sheriff’s Stand in Michigan

Sheriff Kim Cole of Mason County, Michigan, shared his experiences and perspectives with Ben Bergquam, emphasizing his commitment to upholding constitutional rights during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Sheriff Cole underscored the importance of defending these rights, even in the face of executive orders that restricted activities and imposed fines.

In early 2020, as COVID-19 began to spread widely in the United States, various state-level responses were implemented. In April 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order granting law enforcement the authority to enforce lockdown measures. This included the ability to enter private property and issue fines of up to $1,000 and 30 days of incarceration for violations. Sheriff Cole, along with three other Michigan sheriffs, publicly announced their decision not to enforce these provisions, citing constitutional concerns.

“Governor Whitmer had locked our state down pretty much… it flew in the face of our constitutional rights,” Cole explained. He added, “There were four of us sheriffs in early April who stood up and said no, we can’t. We’re not going to do this. We’re not going to go on people’s private property.”

During the spring and summer of 2020, specific instances highlighted the perceived inconsistencies and overreach of the executive orders. Cole noted, “You could take 10 of your buddies and you could get your kayaks and you could go to a boat launch and you could go kayaking with 10 of your friends during the lockdown.

But if you had a fishing boat, and you just wanted to go river fish by yourself in a 14-foot motorboat, you couldn’t go.” He also pointed out that while walking on the beach was allowed, sitting alone in a car at the beach was prohibited. The state’s designation of essential and non-essential workers caused confusion and frustration, exemplified by the shutdown of a local foundry and restrictions on lawn care businesses working at vacant homes. “When they defined essential and non-essential workers, that really started it here in our community,” Cole remarked.

As the lockdowns continued, Sheriff Cole emphasized the importance of upholding constitutional rights and allowing businesses to operate within safety guidelines. For example, lawn care businesses were permitted to work, provided they avoided direct contact with homeowners. Reflecting on the year, Cole shared his evolving understanding of the Constitution’s role in guiding law enforcement decisions. Early warnings from others about potential government overreach had influenced his perspective.

“The day is going to come when the government’s going to try to take away our rights… I didn’t really understand that in 2013, but educating myself on the value of our constitutional rights, I think sheriffs across America will be put in a position where they’re going to have to defend their communities,” Cole stated.

Sheriff Cole continues to speak out about the importance of sheriffs and law enforcement officers upholding constitutional rights and preparing to defend their communities against government overreach.

“When keeping the job is more important than doing the job, the mission’s been lost,” he asserted. Cole’s steadfast commitment to constitutional principles during the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the critical role of law enforcement in safeguarding individual liberties, even in challenging times.

Sheriff Cole also discussed his commitment to defending free speech, noting an increase in attempts to suppress conservative voices on college campuses. Additionally, he touched on issues related to border security and cartel activity affecting counties in Michigan, both from the southern and northern borders. Sheriff Cole highlighted the significance of the upcoming elections, contrasting the law enforcement policies of President Trump and President Biden, and urged people to stay hopeful and vigilant.


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