LOVINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – A southern New Mexico Sheriff is telling local businesses that they have his, and his officers’ support, if they decide to open even though it goes against the current public health order.

“We want to stress that when we put that post out, we are not telling people to open their businesses,” said Vivian Martinez, Public Information Officer with the Lea County Sheriff’s Office.

Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton posted on their Facebook page, sending a message to business owners that he supports them. The post said: “Sheriff Helton supports your right to keep your business open but asks you do so in a responsible, discrete manner.” He told them to keep their doors locked and “limit your customers to those you know and trust.”

“I was actually surprised that they’re going against the governor, yeah I was surprised they would do that, it’s actually very good,” said Celes Villa and Victor Juarez.

Some residents say the post came as a shock to them. Surprised that he would be willing to stand up to the governor. Some really appreciated it, others believe it will just cause more tension.

“We see the hardships that they are, you know going through. We understand the hardships that they are going through and essentially we just want to support them in whatever way we possibly can,” said Martinez.

Martinez said the Sheriff’s Office is fully doing their part to help stop the virus, practice safe social distancing, and wearing a mask. If if a business wants to open up, they have their full support.

“Lea County Sheriff’s Office and the Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton did not request that the businesses open or remain open, we are merely supporting them. We know and understand that businesses, also know and understand, the protocols they need to follow in order to keep their patrons safe,” said Vivian.

Sheriff Helton said they have received reports of people claiming to be with the state to shut down businesses. The Sheriff’s Office says to call them if that happens.

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