Some Police, Sheriffs Won’t Enforce Mask Requirements

Print More

Police Chief Lang Holland of tiny Marshall, Ar., believes the coronavirus threat has been overstated and wears a face mask only inside businesses that requires them. He doesn’t make his officers wear them. After Gov. Asa Hutchinson required masks to be worn in public throughout Arkansas, Holland made it clear he wasn’t going to enforce the mandate in the Ozarks town of 1,300, calling it an unconstitutional overreach, the Associated Press reports. “All I’m saying is if you want to wear a mask, you have the freedom to choose that,” said Holland.  “It should not be dictated by the nanny state.”

Holland is among police chiefs and sheriffs who won’t enforce statewide mask requirements, even within their departments. Some say they don’t have the manpower to respond to every mask complaint, treating violations as they would oft-ignored minor offenses such as jaywalking. Others, including Holland, reject the legal validity of mask requirements. The pushback is concerning to health officials, who say a lack of enforcement could undermine a much-needed step to slow the spread of coronavirus. More than half the states have issued orders to wear masks in most public settings, with virus cases on the rise. The most vocal police pushback to mask requirements is coming from Republican-led states that aggressively reopened businesses or previously opposed mask requirements. In Arkansas, several police chiefs and sheriffs said they wouldn’t enforce Hutchinson’s order, which prohibits people from being jailed for violations and imposes fines for repeat offenders. Several sheriffs in neighboring Texas said they wouldn’t enforce a mask requirement issued by Gov. Greg Abbott. A group of 38 Montana sheriffs signed an op-ed saying the mask requirement issued by the governor this month “is not a mandate for law enforcement to issue citations and arrest violators.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *