El Paso police refuse to enforce county judge’s order limiting business due to virus outbreak


An El Paso Police Department squad car is seen in this file photo.

EL PASO, Texas -- A police spokesman said Friday that the El Paso Police Department would not be enforcing an order issued by County Judge Ricardo Samaniego restricting business operations to essential services only.

Samaniego said he issued Thursday evening's order in the hopes of containing the spread of Covid-19 throughout El Paso, which has seen record numbers of infections and overloaded hospitals in recent days.

Sgt. Enrique Carillo cited an advisory opinion issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that contends the judge's order is "unenforceable" because it conflicts with prior directives from the governor.

The AG's opinion - issued hours after Samaniego imposed his order Thursday evening - was done at the request of Mayor Dee Margo, who is publicly feuding with the judge over the added restrictions.

Paxton's opinion advised that the judge should "rescind or revise his order" or face a potential lawsuit from the state. Samaniego said county attorneys helped him draft the order and contended he is on solid legal ground.

Citing the attorney general's views, Carillo said, "As such, the El Paso Police Department will not be enforcing the El Paso County Judge's order."

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