Sheriff Richard Jones
Sheriff Richard Jones

On Nov. 17, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health is issuing a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. statewide curfew beginning Thursday, Nov. 19. The curfew will be in effect for 21 days. Not 19 or 20 days. Not 22 or 23 days. The governor, in his infinite wisdom, has determined that 21 days is just right.

Until it isn't.

The curfew will not apply to those going to or from work, he promises, or to those who have an emergency or those who need medical care. The curfew is not intended to stop anyone from getting groceries or going to a pharmacy. Picking up carry-out or a drive-thru meal and ordering for delivery will be permitted, but serving food and drinks in person must stop at 10 p.m.

"We're not shutting down, we're slowing down," DeWine said. "The curfew is aimed at helping to reduce the number of person-to-person contacts because the only way the virus lives is when it goes from one person to another. We have to flatten this curve again and get this under control."

It's possible that DeWine means well. It's also possible that he is enamored with his alleged political approval numbers and his almost daily pressers.

Whether this new curfew will have any impact whatsoever on the great 2020 coronavirus is more than a bit dubious. The virus, its global reach notwithstanding, has yet to learn how to tell time or distinguish from one time zone to another, reasonable minds should agree.

Moreover, the curfew simply makes no sense, and it invites violations. If there is a mandatory curfew from 10 p.m.-5 a.m., how is it that any restaurant can stay open until 10 p.m.? Must their customers arrive home in Operation Warp Speed, similar to President Trump's heroic effort to find a public-private partnership for a coronavirus vaccine?

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones ("Jonesy," as former Highland County Sheriff Tom Horst calls him) shed some much-needed light on the governor's curfew.

Sheriff Jones told Cincinnati’s Fox 19 News that he refuses to assume the role of “curfew police.” Good for him – and the residents of Butler County.

“Everybody is fatigued and tired,” Sheriff Jones told Fox 19. “The governor is a nice guy, (but he) never reaches out to law enforcement. None of my fellow law enforcement people, we’ve never been talked to. We find out what is going on when we see him at the news conference.

“I’m not going to have my employees go out and make arrests or stop people,” Jones said.

Sheriff Jones' common-sense approach to law enforcement has caught my attention for many years. Most recently, in addition to his stance against the idiotic DeWine curfew, the sheriff offered to help fund one-way tickets for so-called celebrities who said they would leave the United States of America if Trump were re-elected.

"Hell, I'll even help them pack," he said.

He extended an invitation to put money toward a one-way ticket for any celebrity who would like to leave the country. He also accurately noted that some celebrities threatened to leave before the election in 2016, were Trump to be elected.

"It is believed not one celebrity left then, and it appears the same threats are being made this election year," he said.

The whining, so-called celebrities aren't going anywhere, and anyone with half a brain knows it.

To paraphrase a Hollywood film ("A Few Good Men"), Deep down in places those so-called celebs don't talk about at parties, they want the safety and financial security that America has provided for more than 200 years.

Some of us would rather they just said "thank you" and went on their way.

And if Sheriff Jones needs a donation to send some overpaid, untalented "celebrity" off to Venezuela, China, Russia, North Korea or Iran, hell, I'll donate a couple of bucks, too.

This evening, I asked some of our local law enforcement if their respective departments will be arresting anyone outside their home after 10 p.m. due to the DeWine curfew.

My first reply was from Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin, who initially said "No." Then added, "I should've been more clear – absolutely not."

Thanks, Todd. 

Similarly, Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera said: "I do not anticipate making any arrests from this curfew." 

Hillsboro Police Chief Eric Daniels had a more, shall I say, diplomatic or politically correct, reply: "We are hoping to educate and respect those we encounter during these unprecedented times."

Thus, one can presume it's best not to be out in public in Hillsboro between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. without just cause. (And let's hope this curfew will not be used as revenue enhancement in any local jurisdictions in Ohio.)

We need to take this virus seriously, but we also need to take our constitutional rights even more seriously.

Personally, when I enter a private business, I wear a damned mask. Do I honestly think it makes a dime's worth of difference should I encounter the microorganism that causes COVID-19? No. But I respect what the business owners are trying to do in order to remain open. I'll wear the mask if that helps our local businesses and gives some – perhaps false – hope of doing something for the betterment of all mankind.

The DeWine 21-day curfew, however, is a joke. The coronavirus cannot tell time. Why 21 days, Mike? Why not 21 months? Or 21 years? Many people have been doing their level best to comply with your orders for months, to no avail.

You know what you can do with your curfew.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.