Dodge County Sheriff’s Office Not Investigating Mask Violations

(Juneau) The Dodge County Sheriff is telling the public not to call his office to report violations of the governor’s new indoor mask mandate. Sheriff Dale Schmidt said in a press release Thursday that his on-duty staff will be directed to comply with the mask mandate with the understanding that several exceptions permit them to not always have a mask on. They will also be asked to voluntarily comply with the order while off duty.

Schmidt says voluntary compliance is the best course and encourages everyone to take precautions to keep themselves and others safe.  He recognizes there are different viewpoints and a need to protect people from getting sick, while also protecting individual rights, but says “loopholes” in the order present “significant challenges…open to interpretation.”

The order does grant exemptions to the mask mandate for medical reasons and the governor asks that the public not assume a person’s health situation when encountering someone without a mask.

Because of that, the sheriff says his deputies will not be responding to or investigating mask violations.

Schmidt cites “the legal difficulties with this order, the limited staffing …available to enforce the mandate, and the Governor’s direction that the public should do nothing if they see someone [not] wearing a mask” in asking that the public “NOT contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office to report incidents where someone is not wearing a mask.”

 

Executive Order #82 declaring a public health emergency is available here and Emergency Order #1 requiring face coverings statewide is available here.

 

Sheriff Dale Schmidt released this press release Thursday afternoon:

“The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has seen the press release from the Governor and the Sheriff would like to provide the citizens of our county feedback after careful analysis of the mandate.  Our on-duty staff will be directed to comply with the mask mandate with the understanding that several exceptions permit them to not always have a mask on.  They will also be asked to voluntarily comply with the order while off duty.  Voluntary compliance by the public is of course the avenue we have asked of our citizens in all matters during the pandemic and that has not changed.  We encourage everyone to take precautions to keep themselves and others safe.  We also understand and recognize different viewpoints and we are doing everything we can to protect people from becoming sick, while also protecting the individual rights of our citizens.

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has identified some significant challenges for enforcement of this mandate, as there are one again many loopholes, which are open to interpretation.  Furthermore, there are medical reasons and other legitimate reasons why someone may not be required to wear a mask and we must be aware of that as well.  Finally, there are certainly concerns with other legalities.

In fact, Governor Evers guided the public on what to do if you see someone not wearing a mask.  The Governor’s guidance is that you should do nothing as some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face-covering difficult or dangerous.  He advises to just wear your mask and stay six feet away.

As a result of the legal difficulties with this order, the limited staffing we have available to enforce the mandate, and the Governor’s direction that the public should do nothing if they see someone wearing a mask, we are asking that you NOT contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office to report incidents where someone is not wearing a mask.  Dodge County Sheriff’s Deputies will not be responding to or investigating these incidents.

Thank you for your time and everyone to please be safe and stay healthy.”