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Law enforcement continues to weigh in on mask enforcement

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Posted at 11:33 AM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 06:56:41-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Ever since the sheriff of Van Buren County said Saturday that his department would not enforce Gov. Whitmer’s executive order mandating the wearing of masks indoors and in outdoor crowds, law enforcement has made public their intent on enforcement.

They tend to “encourage” people to wear masks but don’t go further than warning people that they should wear masks.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller released a statement in which he said “I urge everyone to follow the Executive Orders put in place by Governor Whitmer. They carry the weight of law.”

His department will “inform and educate members of the public with the goal of voluntary compliance,” while enforcement of the mask order “could come through investigations of other public peace or criminal violations.”

He also noted that businesses are within their rights to refuse to people who are not wearing masks into their establishments.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office issued a similar statement but pointed to gray areas in the executive order, specifically the exemption for “an individual cannot medically tolerate a face covering, but the order does not specify what that means or require the individual to show any proof.”

Sheriff L. Paul Bailey’s department will continue to “educate and warn individuals who may not be complying” with the governor’s order.

The Allegan County Sheriff’s office used Facebook to comment, using the same tact but with a new twist: "educating, warning and asking for compliance in order to protect our citizens who are subject to potential sanctions from regulatory agencies. It is our hope to avoid any form of enforcement, but we will assist those at risk of licensing sanctions when asked.” The statement did not clarify the reference to “regulatory agencies” or “licensing sanctions.”

Montcalm County Sheriff Michael Williams also weighed in, noting that deputies “will not...be expending resources of the Sheriff’s Office on issuing citations to individuals not wearing masks.” But, in a release, Williams urged citizens to respect a business’s requirements on wearing masks. “Non-compliant store guests who do not leave when asked, may be prosecuted for trespassing or disorderly conduct under Michigan Law.”

Related: Macomb County Sheriff: We won't be issuing citations to people not wearing masks