Sheriffs in nine Texas counties will not enforce the state’s new mask mandate amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases.
The mask mandate applies to all counties with more than 20 active cases of the coronavirus, but exempts those under the age of 10, those who are eating and those who are exercising.
Fox News reported under the mandate, officers can cite people up to $250 for not wearing a mask if they are repeatedly found to be in violation of the order.
One complaint from some of the sheriffs is that the rule is unenforceable, as it uses ambiguous language about detaining those who do not wear masks in public.
Per the CBS report, a number of the sheriffs feel that merely stopping a person for not wearing a mask is, by definition, a detention.
Law enforcement officers in Denton, Houston, Montgomery, Gillespie, Upshur, Kerr, Gregg, Nacogdoches and Panola counties will disregard the order.
Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree explained his position on the mask mandate in a post on Facebook.
“A week ago they were carrying signs that said F the police, and demanding police be defunded. They were ignoring the Denton curfew order and blocked city streets. Now those same people are mad at me for refusing to enforce the mask mandate issued by the Governor,” Murphree said.
“Their hypocrisy is mind blowing.”
“This is an executive order not a law. Only the legislature can make law. So the accusations that I’m refusing to enforce the law are not true,” the sheriff added.
“The order is not a law, there is no requirement that any police officer enforce it, and it’s unenforceable,” Murphree wrote. “We can’t spend our time running from place to place for calls about mask we can really do nothing about.”
Houston Police Officers’ Union President Joe Gamaldi posted about the mask mandate on Twitter, describing it as “draconian.”
While we in law enforcement are desperately trying to build trust w/our community and are spread incredibly thin with the huge rise in violent crime, we are now expexcted to enforce yet another draconian mask law.
Everyone needs to wear a mask, but don’t put us in this position.
— Joe Gamaldi (@JoeGamaldi) July 2, 2020
The MCSO said its deputies would take “NO actions” on Abbott’s order.
“This language strips law enforcement of the necessary tools to enforce compliance with the law,” the office added.
“We are in a public health crisis and we will use this opportunity to educate our community while still respecting individual liberties,” the department added.
Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges was among sheriffs who questioned the Constitutionality of a mask mandate.
In a video posted on Facebook, Bridges explained that the new health measures are “borderline infringing on those Constitutional rights.”
“Here’s the reality: Every single one of these executive orders that have been issued were done based upon the advice of doctors to ensure that if these executive orders were enforced as local authorities have had the authority to do so, it would stop the spread of the coronavirus, especially this most recent order,” Abbott said.
“If local officials enforce the mask order, it will slow the spread of the coronavirus. They just now need to step up and begin to enforce the orders that are already in place,” the governor added.
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