What is law enforcement’s role under Gov. Inslee’s mask mandate?
Governor Inslee has now mandated that masks be worn in public. He says if you refuse, you could be issued a misdemeanor, though he hopes that cops don’t have to be dealing with that. So what is law enforcement’s role in this?
“We just want to inform, educate, and encourage people to wear the masks when they’re in public spaces,” Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show the morning after Inslee announced the mandate.
While Snaza doesn’t foresee police having to strongly enforce the mask mandate, he worries there will be situations in which others might.
“Some people take this very strongly and have opinions about wearing a mask and who should or shouldn’t. And my fear is that the time we would take action is when people become more verbally assaultive and probably take it upon themselves to maybe enforce the mandate versus letting law enforcement deal with issues. So there are some concerns there,” he said.
When he encounters someone not wearing a mask, what kind of conversation occurs and how does he help them better understand it?
“It’s a public health crisis, dealing with a pandemic, something that none of us ever experienced before in our lives. And so we’re just encouraging that people use common sense when using the mask and taking precautionary steps,” he said. “Whether a person agrees or disagrees … we need to be more appreciative of other people’s desire to ensure that social distancing is encouraged and is being done, and people are wearing masks in public stores and events.”
“Like the governor said, it isn’t something that law enforcement is seeking out to do and arrest people — we’re not looking to do any of that,” Snaza added. “We’re just looking to encourage people … I know it’s a pain, but it’s for the safety of others.”
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