My Position On Mask Mandate - Legal But Unenforceable
For those who have asked how I would handle the mask mandate, as Sheriff of Kootenai County
This is not a new law
We turned the power to tell us what to do in a pandemic over to the government several years ago. The time to address this was back then, when the law was being made, or now - but with your legislators.
In all fairness
I won't argue with you about the legitimacy of all this. I'm not an expert. Let's acknowledge that there are some people who are getting sick from COVID-19, so caution is fair. I don't want to learn the hard way by having my Mother get sick. So, let people stay home or wear masks if they feel it will help. Also understand that some people are afraid. People have a right to be afraid. No matter what you've read or how you feel, be respectful.
Masks are going to go away soon
All of this is going to pass when COVID-19 goes away, and it will... just like the Bird Flu and the Swine Flu. Masks will no longer be an issue then.
The Sheriff doesn't make the laws
I honor the constitution and our laws. I plan to enforce them, legally. I will not be a Sheriff that gets excited about an issue and decides to disregard the law, because of a differing view. So, don't come trying to convince me to break the law because you think it's unconstitutional or unfair. You'll be talking to the wrong person. Try your legislators, or the owner of your favorite establishment, who might listen to you. BUT - There are missing elements to this equation.
Mask mandate missing elements
1) No green light by County Prosecutor
2) No budget to support initiatives
3) Not a high enough priority
Mask mandate is legal, not enforceable
1) County Prosecutor Must Commit
If we send our officers out on mask patrol, what happens after the transaction? If the County Prosecutor has not established that the offense will be prosecuted, well then, we're all wasting our time.
Missing Element. Not enforceable.
2) No Budget To Support Initiatives
It may not be easy to pass a law or a mandate (which is legal). On the other hand, it's also not easy to suddenly be told to send your employees on a new mission, with no new money, when they're already spread thin enough. It's going to have to be done smarter than that. More tasks = more human hours = more money. New mask patrols, but no new resources?
Missing element. Not enforceable.
3) Not A High Enough Priority
This is really the only part that I can control in the end. Remember we also happen to have real crimes and immediate danger to deal with. We already struggle with how thinly to spread our workforce. Nobody wants to roll their vehicle into a ditch and have to wait longer than normal because our same officers are suddenly busy walking by restaurants and boat docks and writing tickets for masks. This ties into the missing budget statement. Regardless, if I have officers, I most likely have more immediately urgent issues for them to attend to. Enforcing the mask mandate is not a high enough priority for emergency services.
Missing element. Not enforceable.
Official Mask Order And Restrictions [excerpt and link]
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED BY THE BOARD OF HEALTH FOR THE PANHANDLE HEALTH DISTRICT:
That every person in Kootenai County is required to wear a face covering that completely covers the person’s nose and mouth when the person is in a public place and physical distancing of 6 feet from others cannot be maintained.
Remember it's not up to the police to solve these problems. Use common sense, patience and respect. The new normal will be over soon and we'll be back to normal.
Thank you for reading. Health and happiness to you all,
Nagel For Sheriff of Kootenai County 2020
This is OUR County, this is OUR Sheriff
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