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Barton County Sheriff’s Office, other Kansas law enforcement agencies will not enforce mask mandate

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 5:25 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Some rural Kansas communities are responding to a mask mandate set to take place statewide at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. Most of them have said they will not enforce it.

The Barton County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday, it received numerous calls about the enforcement of Gov. Laura Kelly’s order “facemask order.” After legal consultation and reading HB 2016, or the COVID-19 bill passed by the Kansas legislature in June, the sheriff’s office said it will not enforce the issue because it is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

“Based on review of the statutes, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing the non-wearing masks or using any of our resources to respond to calls simply because someone is not wearing a mask,” said the sheriff’s office. “We will continue to respond to crimes and emergencies as needed.”

The Norton County Sheriff Troy Thompson said his county will not enforce the mandate. He said even if they wanted to, they just don’t have the resources.

“Is just too much of a drain on manpower, and the court system itself if you get too involved in this,” said Thompson.

Russell County County Commissioner Steve Reinhardt said his constituents were tired of mandates. The last mandate the county had to comply with was the stay-at-home order even though it had no COVID-19 cases.

“Every one of them was negative for anymore mandates out here. They’re basically tired of the mandates and that’s the issue they were trying to convey,” said Reinhart.

Both Thompson and Reinhart said they trust people in their communities to take their own and others’ health seriously.

Other jurisdictions not enforcing the mandate Commanche County Sheriff’s Office, McPherson Police Department, Norton Police Department, Phillips County Sheriff’s Office, Rooks County Sheriff’s Office and Scott County.

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