A letter signed by a large number of Montana County Sheriffs has been promoted as saying the Governor’s mandatory masking policy is ‘unenforceable’.

COVID 19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr has read the letter and agrees that enforcing the policy itself is not a law enforcement matter.

“That letter was signed by a lot of sheriffs from all across Montana,” said Farr. “The reasoning behind it is that people should not be calling 9-1-1 to report that someone is not wearing a face covering. That doesn’t mean that the sheriff’s don’t support the face covering, it’s just that they need to be able to do their law enforcement jobs and stop criminal activity.”

Farr said the masking policy must be self-enforced for the good of the community.

“It’s actually up to the individual to make sure that you’re following the face covering mandate, and it’s up to businesses to enforce the face covering mandate,” she said. “For example, if someone came into a business and they were not wearing a face covering and the business asked that person to put on a face covering and then that person became confrontational or threatening, then that would be the appropriate time to call for them to call 9-1-1 to report it.”

Farr did say that there is an avenue for anyone to report if a business is not following or enforcing the masking mandate.

“For those types of complaints it’s actually best if you call our environmental health enforcement branch at 258-4755, or email envhealth@missoulacounty.us,” she said. “That goes to our enforcement branch, and then our public health sanitarians go out and they chat with the business and see what’s actually happening and help them find ways to come up with a solution.”

Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton issued a similar view recently in a story on our website.

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