Butler County Sheriff: ‘I am not going to be the mask police’

Updated: Jul. 7, 2020 at 5:59 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says he’s not going to enforce mask policy or have his deputies stop people and tell them to put their mask on.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that masks are required at any indoor location that is not a home in Butler and Hamilton counties - with exceptions.

The order from the Ohio Department of Health will remain in effect until the counties are no longer in the ‘red risk’ category according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System

‘Red risk’, which is the second-highest of four possible levels, means there is an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread, and people are urged to exercise a high degree of caution.

“I’m am not going to be the mask police. I’m not going to enforce mask policy to where my deputies stop people and say, ‘Put your mask on.' That’s not going to be the case. It’s out of control and if people want to wear a mask then they should be able to wear a mask and if not they shouldn’t,” Jones said.

The health department is in charge of enforcing the mask policy, and Jones says that’s fine with him.

“Let the health department make all these rules and let them enforce these. They can get a little yellow light on their car and ride around in it and give people tickets. If that’s what they wanna do, fine. They’ll need the police in the end because people’s (sic) getting angry,” Jones said.

He says do not call 911 because somebody’s not wearing a mask because his department is busy fighting an increase in crime with fewer people, fewer resources, and less money.

“We have a tense time going on right now and being made to do something, and these masks inside, it changes every day and I assume that it will change within the hour. But my main thrust is, we’re not going to enforce this edict from the governor on wearing masks, period,” Jones said.

Butler County Health Commissioner Jennifer Bailer says they support the governor’s mask order in light of an increase in COVID-19 cases as well as an increase in hospital admissions in the county.

Officials with the Butler County General Health District say they’re working to make masks more accessible, especially for people who may have issues getting them.

Masks are available at fire stations across the county, as well as select food pantries and meal centers while supplies last.

You can also buy them at most major retailers.

“We certainly do NOT want to go back to being shut down. HEALTHY PEOPLE ARE GOOD FOR BUSINESS IN BUTLER County!!! Public health supports businesses, we want people to have jobs and be able to pay their bills and buy food for their children - that is all a part of health and being healthy. It is so important that we practice physical distancing (don’t be in crowded places), wear a mask (keep your droplets to yourself), and keep our hands clean so that we do not have to go back to bring restricted,” a news release from the BCGHD said.

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