June 30, 2020 | By Mark Price | The News & Observer | Source |
“A growing number of North Carolina county sheriffs are backing away from enforcing Gov. Roy Cooper’s controversial pandemic mask mandate, including some who insist it is unconstitutional.
Cooper announced Wednesday that face masks will be required in all public spaces starting Friday to thwart the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19.
However, more than 15 sheriffs in some of the state’s most populace counties say they don’t intend to cite people for ignoring the order. This includes sheriffs in Alamance, Beaufort, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Gaston, Halifax, Henderson, Iredell, Johnston, Rockingham, Sampson and Union counties.
Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton called Cooper’s mandate “unconstitutional” in a Facebook post and said it would distract officers from criminal investigations. Thornton said he will only take action on the mandate if it was “court ordered by a Judicial Official or the Legislature.”
“It is my sworn duty to enforce laws enacted by our legislature, as well as protect the constitutional rights of all citizens,” Thornton posted on his Facebook page.
“It is my belief that Governor Cooper’s executive order mandating face coverings by all citizens in public is not only unconstitutional, but unenforceable. My deputies will NOT enforce an executive order that I feel violates the constitutional liberties of citizens.”
Halifax Sheriff Wes Tripp didn’t raise constitutional questions, but says he believes wearing a mask “is a personal decision, not one of a governor in Raleigh.”
“I certainly encourage people to be careful and take safety precautions, however your Sheriff’s Office will not be taking enforcement actions against people or businesses for not wearing masks,” Tripp posted on Facebook around 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office noted the language in Cooper’s executive order made it nearly impossible to enforce, unless customers, employees or patrons were accused of trespassing.
Meanwhile, Beaufort County Sheriff Ernie Coleman noted in a Facebook post: “Common sense should dictate that if you feel any symptoms you should wear a mask for the protection of others or better yet stay home.”
Cops Refuse to Enforce July 4th Rules
“Unfortunately for Los Angeles County, they decided on the renewed lockdown without bothering to consult the county sheriff’s department. Following the governor’s announcement, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he hadn’t been consulted and wouldn’t be enforcing the beach closure. They’ll monitor parking lots and the Pacific Coast Highway, he said, but they won’t be jailing anyone who insists on going to the beach.”