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Local law enforcement take sides on enforcing mask order

Law enforcement departments across Wisconsin’s counties are announcing how they will be approaching the state’s mask mandate that starts Aug. 1.
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Generic Wisconsin COVID-19 graphic(MGN)
Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2020 at 11:20 AM CDT
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WISCONSIN (WMTV) - Law enforcement departments across Wisconsin’s counties are announcing how they will be approaching the state’s mask mandate that starts Aug. 1.

GRANT COUNTY:

Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman says his office will not be enforcing the mask mandate. Sheriff Dreckman explained in a post to social media Thursday that his deputies will not be enforcing complaints of violations of the mask order, due to the following reasons:

· The Sheriff’s Office’s priority is preventing and investigating criminal activity in the county, not enforcing health orders.

· Dreckman says the vast majority of residents in Grant County do not support the mask mandate, and further argues that the order will only become more controversial amid the “current lack of support for law enforcement in this country (not necessarily locally).”

According to the executive order FAQ: “Local and state officials may enforce the order. Violating the order may result in a civil fine up to $200.”

Dreckman says sheriff’s offices across the state are now seeking clarification with the Attorney General Josh Kaul’s Office, as to who is required to enforce the mask mandate.

Dreckman insists the order is not a law enforcement issue, but rather a state and local public health department issue.

“The Sheriff’s Office will not take enforcement action regarding complaints of violations of the most recent Governor’s order regarding masks. If you have concerns please contact your local health department, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services or the Governor’s Office,” according to Sheriff Dreckman.

GREEN COUNTY:

Green County District Attorney Craig R. Nolen said in a news release Thursday that his office will also not be enforcing the mask mandate, nor will it be prosecuting any offenses for people who are not complying with the mandate.

“It is at times like these, that I call upon our legislature and local municipalities to make decisions based upon what fits the needs of each community best and that all residents of Green County and the State of Wisconsin consider the severity of the impacts of COVID-19 on people’s individual healthy,” DA Nolen wrote.

Nolen continued: “I strongly encourage all residents of Green County to wear a mask, not because of government mandate, but rather the sensible thing to do to help stop the spread of a a serious virus.”

DODGE COUNTY:

Meanwhile, Dodge County Sheriff Dale J. Schmidt said in a news release Thursday that residents should not call the Sheriff’s Office with complaints regarding the enforcement of masks. The Sheriff did say that deputies will be directed to comply with the mask mandate.

Sheriff Schmidt writes: “The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has identified some significant challenges for enforcement of this mandate, as there are one again many loopholes, which are open to interpretation. Furthermore, there are medical reasons and other legitimate reasons why someone may not be required to wear a mask and we must be aware of that as well. Finally, there are certainly concerns with other legalities.”

MONROE COUNTY:

Monroe County Sheriff Wes Revels said on Facebook that his office “will not participate” in enforcing the wearing of a mask and asks residents not to report situations where masks are not being worn because deputies will not respond or investigate.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN:

Prairie du Chien Police Department Chief of Police Kyle Teynor also posted to social media saying that the department will not enforce the mandate.

“Knowing that the wearing of face coverings is a very polarizing topic, I wish to make it very clear prior to the effective date of August 1, 2020, that the Prairie du Chien Police Department will not be the enforcement agency to handle complaints of violations of Governor Ever’s order,” Chief Teynor wrote.

CORRECTION: A previous version of the story said that the Sheriff’s Office in Green County would not enforce the mask mandate. It is the Grant County Sheriff’s Office that announced it would not enforce the mandate. The Green County DA’s Office also announced it will not be enforcing the mandate.

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