Utah County Sheriff explains why his deputies won’t arrest anyone violating mask mandate, should one be ordered


UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – With the possibility of a mask mandate being ordered by the Governor, Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith is explaining why he will not arrest violators.

On Friday, Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith issued a statement that he will not have his deputies arrest people for violating mask mandates, should one be put in place.

After a record breaking weekened for positive cases throughout Utah, Governor Herbert met with officials Monday morning to make decisions on what should be done.

After Sheriff Smith’s statement, someone on the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Facebook asked him “Why won’t you enforce the mask mandate?”

Below is his direct response to that question:

  1. “The spikes in the positive COVID tests are coming out of our 2 major universities in the county that recently started upbringing approximately 60,000 new students into the area. Both universities already have very strict mask mandates. The response should be concentrated on the problem area, not the entire population of the county as is being suggested. 
  2. “I find it interesting that the nation is demanding police reform, yet every time there is any crisis the response is, pass a law and let the police worry about it. Then, the only resource provided to the police is arrest or citation. I believe we can do better than that. 
  3. This is a health issue, a community issue, and should be addressed as such. It should not be criminalized. The federal government has given Utah hundreds of millions of dollars to address this issue, Utah County received over 100 million of that, and still, the best we can do with the resources and options that money could provide is dump the problem on the police by criminalizing it. 
  4. “The issue for me is not the mask, it is the approach. When we first entered into this pandemic a health order was issued that restricted gatherings larger than 10 people. We had citizens calling the police on fellow citizens for holding family gatherings in public places as well as private property. We had incidents of public disorder between citizens due to the order. A mask mandate will generate the same responses. 

“The real mandate should be to our elected officials to address the specific problem in the specific areas that are affected with a community-based approach that promotes buy-in and acceptance from the community,” Sheriff Smith added.

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