Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims spoke about COVID-19, police brutality and Concealed Carry Weapon licenses during a virtual Clovis Chamber of Commerce event.
The hour-long Wake Up Clovis was held July 8th on Zoom. Chamber members were able to ask the sheriff questions.
Mims acknowledged that there has been an outbreak of Coronavirus inside the Fresno County Jail and believes asymptomatic carriers are partly to blame.
She says early on, they did a good job keeping the virus out of the jail, but once it was brought in, it spread quickly. At the time of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce event, Mims said over 600 of the jail’s 2,000 inmates had tested positive.
“We are working closely with our health provider,” Mims said. “We clean constantly. I’ve learned a lot over the past few months, about COVID and what we should be doing.”
Jail employees are now being tested weekly and inmates who have tested positive for the virus are separated from inmates who do not have it.
As of July 11th there have been 8,282 cases of COVID-19 in Fresno County. Of the over 8,000 cases, 455 people have been hospitalized and 88 have died.
“When Fresno County had a spike of cases in one day, most of those cases came from the jail,” Mims said. “Forty percent of our deaths in Fresno County are in nursing homes. So knowing where the most vulnerable is, is important.”
In June, California issued a mandate requiring residents to wear a face covering when in public spaces to help slow the spread of the virus. Mims was asked about comments she’s previously made about not penalizing people who do not wear a mask.
Mims says that she’s not against people wearing face coverings, but that the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have the manpower to enforce the mask mandate. She says deputies are busy with cases involving violent crime and domestic violence. She doesn’t want to pull resources away to focus on ticketing people not wearing masks.
“I don’t want any violent crime victim waiting because they’re doing mask enforcement,” Mims said. “That just doesn’t make common sense.”
Mims did say that she’s asked Fresno County Sheriff Deputies and employees to comply with the mandate.
“I encourage them to use common sense and when they have public contact, to put them on,” she said.
Sheriff Mims also spoke about the protests and riots that have taken place across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His death, while in police custody, has caused concerns about police brutality and excessive force.
Most cities in Fresno County held protests following Floyd’s death, but Mims says she was happy to see they were mainly peaceful.
She didn’t like what she saw in places like New York and Los Angeles, where businesses were looted and burned to the ground. In Seattle, the police department abandoned a substation after rioters surrounded it.
“It’s a travesty when you look at what happened in Seattle,” Mims said. “That was the mistake, many cities made. They allowed criminal behavior to erupt and convene for a long, long time.”
The unrest has led to an increase in individuals wanting to protect themselves. There’s been an uptick in Fresno County residents applying for a Concealed Carry Weapon license.
“It’s such an important issue in our area, that I have to step up and make sure that process is as easy as possible and make sure that people who qualify and can legally carry a weapon, can do so,” Mims said.
To make it easier for Fresno County residents to apply for a CCW, they can now do so online at FresnoSherriff.org.
Sheriff Mims has been a peace officer since 1980 and was elected Sheriff in 2006. Her current term runs through 2022.
She says she’s always looking to add high quality individuals to her team.
“One of the things that I say, that’s important to me is if you want to get involved and be in law enforcement because you want to shoot a gun, drive fast and wear a uniform, please go to work for someone else,” she says. “If you want to come to work to provide a service to the public and that’s where your heart is, then I want you.”
The Clovis Chamber of Commerce plans to continue with their Wake Up Clovis events via Zoom. To learn more you can visit their website, ClovisChamber.com.