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These Wisconsin sheriffs say they won't enforce Gov. Tony Evers' statewide mask order

Posted at 11:43 AM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-01 12:50:14-04

On Thursday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order requiring anyone five years of age or older to wear a face covering while in an enclosed space with others. In the hours since the announcement, reaction has been swift - many law enforcement agencies at the county level have already said they won't enforce the order.

Here's a round-up of the reaction so far, from southeast Wisconsin and beyond:

Adams County: Will not enforce

"The Adams County Sheriff’s Office will not be investigating violations of the Governor's Emergency Order requiring “face coverings”. We do not have resources to investigate this type of complaint. There are numerous legitimate exemptions to the requirement of wearing a face covering," the sheriff's office said on Facebook.

Brown County: Will not enforce

"Please be advised that the Brown County Sheriff’s Office will not be responding to complaints of individuals violating the Governor’s mandate, nor will it be taking any direct law enforcement action as it relates to the Governor’s face covering mandate," the sheriff's office said on Facebook.

Florence County: Will not enforce

Florence County Sheriff's Office: "Wear a mask if you want, if you don’t want to, that is fine also. The Sheriff’s Office is not the mask police. We will be out looking for real criminals."

Fond du Lac County: Will not enforce

"We have been receiving many inquiries about whether or not our Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing Governor Evers’ 'mask mandate.' The simple answer is 'no,' and for many reasons. We do not have the resources or the time to respond to complaints about people not wearing masks, and there are many legitimate reasons that people cannot safely wear masks, among other concerns I have with the order," the Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post.

Dodge County: Will not enforce

"As a result of the legal difficulties with this order, the limited staffing we have available to enforce the mandate, and the Governor’s direction that the public should do nothing if they see someone wearing a mask, we are asking that you NOT contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office to report incidents where someone is not wearing a mask. Dodge County Sheriff’s Deputies will not be responding to or investigating these incidents," Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said in an emailed news release.

Jefferson County: Not known at this time

Kenosha County: Not known at this time

Langlade County: Will not enforce

“The Langlade County Sheriff’s Office will not respond to or participate in the enforcement of this order mandating mask use. We believe the goal of this order is compliance and education and is not meant to be punitive,” a statement posted to Facebook reads.

Lincoln County: Will not enforce

“The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will not be investigating or enforcing Governor Evers’ Executive Order #82, mandatory mask use. We ask that people continue to make their own decisions to protect themselves from COVID-19,” Sheriff Ken Schneider said in a news release.

Milwaukee County: Not known at this time

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said in a news release he supports Gov. Evers' order, but did not address enforcement.

Here's what you need to know about Gov. Tony Evers' statewide mask mandate for Wisconsin

Oneida County: Will not enforce

"The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing the Governor’s order that mandates the wearing of masks starting August 1, 2020 nor will we be responding to complaints about mask violations. Aside from a belief that this order is in violation of the Constitution which all deputies of Oneida County have sworn an oath to uphold, the Governor’s order outlines numerous reasons why a person may be exempt from wearing a mask. Several of these reasons have to do with medical and mental health conditions. It is not the place of law enforcement to question citizens about their medical or mental health thus we will not be enforcing the mask mandate," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post.

Ozaukee County: Will not enforce

"The Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office will not be investigating violations of the Governor's statewide face covering mandate," said the officer in a Facebook post.

Racine County: Will not enforce

"Once again, another overreach by our state government that I will not enforce. I have confidence that our citizens, business owners and visitors will take reasonable precautions to keep themselves and others they encounter safe," Sheriff Christopher Schmaling told the Racine Journal Times.

Sheboygan County: Asking citizens to voluntarily comply

In a statement released Friday from multiple agencies including the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office, the agency did not explicitly say it would not enforce the governor's order, but it did ask for citizens and visitors to voluntarily agree to wear masks.

"Sheboygan County Law Enforcement Agencies will utilize this order as an educational tool," the statement reads in part. "We are confident that our citizens can make sound decisions when it comes to their health and the safety of others."

The agencies also asked people not to call 911 to report non-compliance with the order.

Locals react, challenge Governor Evers' mask requirement

Walworth County: Will not enforce

"The Walworth County Sheriff’s Office will not be responding to complaints of individuals suspected of violating the Governor’s mandate, nor take any direct law enforcement action as it relates specifically to the Governor’s face covering mandate," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post.

Waukesha County: Will not enforce

"The Waukesha County Sheriff's office will not be investigating, nor responding to, reports of violations of individuals not wearing masks pursuant to the recent order from the Governor. As Sheriff, I must prioritize the use of law enforcement resources and I am not inclined to use our finite resources on what is essentially a public health responsibility. This decision is also consistent with the great majority of police agencies in Waukesha County," Sheriff Eric Severson said in an emailed statement.

Waupaca County: Will not enforce

“Please be advised that the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office will not be responding to complaints of individuals violating the Governor’s mandate, nor will it be taking any direct law enforcement action as it relates to the Governor’s face covering mandate,” a statement from the office of Sheriff Timothy R. Wilz reads.

Washburn County: Will not enforce

"Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers released an order for mandatory masks in public. There hasn't been any 'mask law' passed through our state legislature. The Washburn County Sheriff's Office will not participate in any enforcement in regards to the wearing of masks. We believe it is government overreach and unconstitutional on many levels," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post.

Washington County: Will not enforce

"This mandate is an overreach of government that is contrary to the oath of office I made to each and every one of you. There are at least 20 exemptions to wearing masks and I am not prepared to have deputies detain law abiding citizens in an effort to determine if citizens fit into one of the subjective exemptions," Sheriff Martin R. Schulteis said on Facebook.

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