Mid-Michigan police won’t enforce face mask mandate

The Arenac County Sheriff's Office will not respond to any complaints about people violating...
The Arenac County Sheriff's Office will not respond to any complaints about people violating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's face mask order.(WJRT)
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 11:07 AM EDT
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ARENAC COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - At least two Mid-Michigan police departments say they will not enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s toughened face mask mandate that took effect Monday.

The Arenac County Sheriff’s Office and Sandusky Police Department both posted on Facebook, telling their constituents to call Whitmer’s office with any complaints about people not wearing face masks or coverings as directed. No officers from either department will respond, they say.

Whitmer strengthened an order last week requiring everyone in an enclosed space, such as stores and restaurants, or closely packed in a group outdoors to wear a mask. The new order includes a potential $500 fine for violations.

Arenac County Sheriff James Mosciski said his agency lacks the manpower to take complaints about violations of Whitmer’s orders, especially when the population nearly doubles and call volume triples during the summer months.

“Our deputies often run call to call most of their shift,” he said. “Any spare time is reserved for follow up and traffic enforcement, which is badly needed with the (M-65) bridge and U.S. 23 bridge being out.”

He encouraged residents to call the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration at 1-855-713-3219 or the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to report people not wearing masks as ordered.

The Sandusky Police Department issued a statement on Friday saying the number and complexity of Whitmer’s coronavirus orders have become too much for the agency to follow.

“For local law enforcement, this has become a very confusing issue as to what’s enforceable and what is not enforceable,” the statement says.

Sandusky police say anyone who calls to report a face mask violation will be referred to Whitmer’s constituent service line at 517-335-7858.

The Gratiot County Sheriff’s Office says it will receive complaints about potential face mask violations, but deputies will not issue tickets. Instead, information will be taken and forwarded to the Gratiot County Prosecutor’s Office or Michigan Attorney General’s Office for review.

The sheriff’s office also will issue trespassing complaints when requested by businesses for customers not wearing face masks inside. Those reports also will be forward to prosecutors.

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