Ohio sheriff refuses to enforce governor's mask order: 'I'm not going to be the mask police'

County officials urged residents not to report mask violations

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 09 July 2020 19:57 BST
Bill Nye the Science Guy shares information on masks

An Ohio sheriff said he won't enforce Governor Mike DeWine's order making face masks mandatory in states with high rates of Covid-19 infections.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones appeared on CNN Wednesday and told anchor Brianna Keilar that while he wears a mask and is "good with that," he has no plans on enforcing the governor's mask order.

"I'm not going to be the mask police. Period," Mr Jones said.

The sheriff is a supporter of President Donald Trump and comes from a county of like minded individuals; Butler County voted for Mr Trump by a 2-to-1 margin in 2016 and nearly all of its officeholders are Republicans.

Mr DeWine issued the mandatory mask order on Tuesday. The order covers seven "high risk" counties, including Butler.

The sheriff isn't the only public official in the county that plans to ignore the order.

According to local broadcast news WLWT, the county's health commissioner, Jennifer Bailer, said her department won't be enforcing the order either.

"Sheriff Richard Jones said he will not be the mask police. Public health will not be the mask police either," Ms Bailer said during a press conference.

Though Ms Bailer said she wouldn't enforce the mask order, she did encourage the public to wear masks and said that Butler County had the highest single-day number - 45 - of new coronavirus cases in the state last week.

"From the data that I see daily, the number of hospital beds occupied for Covid-19 continues to be on the rise," Ms Bailer said. "The number of ICU beds continues to rise but we are not spiking. We are not overwhelming our hospital system at this point."

The local reporters were unable to find any county officials willing to enforce the governor's mask order.

Officials with the Butler County Sheriff's Office, the Fairfield Police Department, Fairfield Township and Middletown have urged the public not to report individuals violating the mask order.

Under Mr DeWine's order, anyone over the age of 10 living in one of the seven listed counties must wear a mask anytime they're inside a structure that isn't a residence, or anytime they are outdoors and unable to maintain a six foot distance from other people. The order went into effect last night.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in