Butler County sheriff: ‘We are not the mask police’

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said he will not help enforce the Ohio governor’s orders Tuesday for mandatory mask wearing in the county in battling the coronavirus.

“We are not the mask police,” said Jones, who added he will not require his deputies to enforce Gov. Mike DeWine’s orders.

“Unless you’re sick then that’s a different story (but) I am not enforcing any mask wearing,” said Jones during a press conference called shortly after DeWine finished his media briefing.

DeWine’s order Tuesday was directed at Butler, Hamilton and Montgomery counties where sharp spikes in the number of coronavirus cases have been recently reported. Four other Ohio counties are under similar mask orders, which begins 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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Jones objected to what he described as an overreach of state government infringing on individual liberties.

He also said his department — and other police agencies in Butler County — are already fully engaged with fighting crime, often with dwindling personnel and financial resources brought on since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

Wearing a protective mask, he said, “should be left up to the individual.”

“I don’t have the personnel to enforce mask wearing,” Jones said, adding an invitation to local health officials to step up and enforce the new state mandate in place of his deputies.

He also warned residents who live in parts of the county policed by his department to not call 911 to report people not wearing masks.

“Don’t call our dispatch center … we cannot enforce people not wearing masks,” said Jones.

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