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LIST: these Sheriff Offices won’t enforce mask mandate

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(WAOW) -- On Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers announced a statewide mask mandate, but some sheriff offices say that they won't enforce the order.

Below is a running list of sheriff offices in the north central Wisconsin area that won't enforce the order.

  • Oneida County
  • Forest County
  • Taylor County
  • Wood County
  • Vilas County
  • Langlade County
  • Lincoln County
  • Portage County

Oneida County made the following statement in a press release:

"Aside from a belief that this order is in violation of the Constitution which all deputies of Oneida County have sworn an oath to uphold, the Governor’s order outlines numerous reasons why a person may be exempt from wearing a mask. Several of these reasons have to do with medical and mental health conditions. It is not the place of law enforcement to questions citizens about their medical or mental health thus we will not be enforcing the mask mandate."

Vilas County made the following statement in a Facebook post:

"The Vilas County Sheriff’s Office lacks the resources needed to become the mask police in Vilas County. We will work with our public health department and encourage people to comply with this order when possible. Please do not tie up emergency phone lines with calls about mask compliance."

Sheriff John Dennee made the following statement on the Forest Co. Sheriff Office's Facebook.

"The Forest County Sheriff's Office will not be enforcing the mask mandate, nor will we be responding to complaints of mask violations. We, as always, will continue to be proactive in preventing and enforcing criminal activity in Forest County.
Please do not tie up our emergency phone lines about mask issues unless there are other circumstances that require a law enforcement presence. I feel that this mandate is not a law enforcement matter, but more of a public health matter."

Sheriff Larry Woebbeking made the following statement on the Taylor Co. Sheriff's Office Facebook.

"Law enforcement has long had discretionary authority while enforcing the law. This discretionary authority is a decision-making process that helps law enforcement evaluate the situation and choose a course of action.

"The Taylor Co. Sheriff's Office will be exercising that discretionary authority and will not participate in the enforcement of this latest executive order.

"This order just came out and other local government entities are still processing what this looks like. So please be patient and continue to monitor your local government sites for updates."

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office made the following statement in a press release:

"The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office will not be investigating or enforcing Gov. Evers Executive Order #82, mandatory mask use. We ask that people continue to make their own decisions to protect themselves from COVID-19. We also ask that people then respect the individual decisions that people make.

Please continue to respect the rights of private businesses that may require the wearing of face coverings. We will respond to assist businesses in maintaining peace and order in those cases.

Marathon Co. Sheriff's Office has not made an official statement as to whether or not they will be enforcing the mask mandate. Sheriff Scott Parks wrote a Facebook post saying they are waiting on a decision from the Wisconsin Attorney General as to who enforces the mandate.

"Please do not call our Communications Center to report mask mandate issues. We have limited resources to handle the call volume for our EMS, Fire and Law Enforcement partners," the post said. "We are awaiting a decision by the Wisconsin Attorney General to determine if the recent mask mandate will be a law enforcement action or a Health Department function. Law enforcement agencies in Marathon County have discretion in all we do pertaining to enforcement actions taken such as verbal or written warning, citations or fines, or arrest. These discretionary practices are applied daily in all we do whether normal operations or virus related. This Office will continue to use those discretionary powers in all we do."

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Sierra Rehm

Social Media and Digital Content Manager

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