Franklin County Sheriff says he won’t enforce mask mandate unless it becomes state law

Sep 28, 2021, 12:23 PM | Updated: Sep 29, 2021, 5:31 am
mask mandate...
A mask mandate remains in place statewide. (MyNorthwest Photo)
(MyNorthwest Photo)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, some law enforcement agencies across Washington have said they won’t enforce statewide mask mandates from Gov. Jay Inslee, with Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond the latest to voice that intention.

Rantz: Democrat state senator breaks COVID mask mandate he forces on us

Raymond says the impetus for the letter he wrote was that there’s been people repeating over and over that he should enforce the “mask laws.”

“We just kind of seemed to be in a rewind over and over and over again on this topic,” Raymond told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “So generally, that’s what prompted me to write the letter.”

“That, and I find it amazing that people continue to believe that there is this mask law out there,” he added.

There is a statewide mandate, but not a law.

“A mandate is, for example, the governor has a proclamation where he can declare emergencies, and orders coming from that are mandates or directives,” Raymond explained. “The law’s the law. And you have to look at the RCW or the Title 9A, and you have to look at the elements of the crime, and then you have to make a decision if there’s probable cause there to effect an arrest or make a filing, and then you go forward.”

“It doesn’t matter what the crime is. But if you look up RCWs or Title 9As on wearing a mask, you aren’t going to find any,” he noted. “And that’s what I was trying to explain to people before we continued too far down the road.”

In this case, there’s no crime committed if someone isn’t wearing a mask. That said, if the governor or the Legislature passed a bill that made the mask mandate a law and the governor signs it into law, Raymond says he would then enforce it.

“If there was actually a law, a criminal law that says you have to wear a mask then the answer would be yes,” he said. “I don’t think we’re ever going to get there, to be quite honest with you, because that seems to be to be a little unreasonable. But yes, if there was … a Title 9A or an RCW outlining it as a criminal act then the answer would be yes.”

Gov. Inslee expands statewide mask mandate to include outdoor events

So far, Raymond says the majority of responses to his letter locally have been supporters.

“The vast majority are the supporters that understand the letter that was written, the step by step, but there are some people out there that believe that the sheriff should bow to the direction of the governor and enforce these mask laws,” he said. “And some of those people at times can be nasty, some are threatening to run against me for election, and those type of things. So it just depends on who you’re talking to on what day.”

“But I don’t know — me, personally, I think a lot of people, they must not have paid attention in civics classes or something,” he added.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Franklin County Sheriff says he won’t enforce mask mandate unless it becomes state law