Berkeley County barber arrested, charged with “non-essential” business violation

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INWOOD, W.Va. (WDVM) — Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller and his deputies recently made an arrest after one business owner defied the governor’s shut-down order during the COVID-19 pandemic. And this business owner isn’t what law enforcement typically encounters.

The state Board of Barbers and Cosmologists acted on a tip and advised police that 72-year-old Inwood barber Winard Jenkins was allegedly defying the governor’s order. Jenkins was asked by deputies to comply with the law and close his doors until the order from the state capital was lifted. But the Keller said Jenkins insisted the U.S. Constitution empowered him to stay open. He allegedly demanded to see a copy of the governor’s order, then questioned its authenticity since the governor’s signature did not appear on the document, Keller said of the incident.

“The guy was completely in defiance even up to the end of shutting down,” said Keller. “After we had begged him, and more or less asked him to shut down and he said no he wasn’t going to do it.”

The sheriff’s office told WDVM that Jenkins asked that he be allowed to consult with his lawyer and told deputies to place him under arrest.

“This incident at the barber shop was unfortunate,” said Captain Brendan Hall, a deputy sheriff. “I think that our deputies gave this gentleman every opportunity to comply. They certainly didn’t want to take the action that they took. But their hands were tied.”

Captain Hall says this incident was pretty unusual, that no one likes having to shut down any business during the public health emergency, but the community understands the reasons behind the governor’s order.

“It’s an unfortunate incident,” says Hall. “But the citizens of this county have been fantastic during this time and we do appreciate that.”

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