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Sheriff does not want to enforce Utah County mask mandate

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith is explaining why deputies will not arrest people for violating any future Utah County mask mandate.  

In a statement, Sheriff Smith responded to the many questions he received from people following his original remarks last week. 

Smith said he feels people who are not causing the spread of COVID-19 should not have extra rules imposed upon them. 

“The spikes in the positive COVID tests are coming out of our two major universities in the county that recently started upbringing approximately 60,000 new students into the area,” Smith wrote.

“Both universities already have very strict mask mandates. The response should be concentrated on the problem area, not the entire population of the county.” 

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But the biggest issue with a Utah County mask mandate is enforcement. Sgt. Spencer Cannon said enforcing the previous health order did not go well. He said people were calling the cops on neighbors who were just enjoying time with family. 

“There were instances where there was enforcement done for those kinds of violations, and Sheriff Smith believes that’s the wrong approach to take,” Cannon said. 

The Sheriff also believes it will hurt police reform efforts. 

“I find it interesting that the nation is demanding police reform, yet every time there is any crisis the response is, pass a law and let the police worry about it,” Smith wrote.

“Then, the only resource provided to the police is arrest or citation. I believe we can do better than that,” Smith said. 

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Instead, the sheriff would like to see public health officials and others take the lead on stopping COVID-19, not law enforcement. 

“The real mandate should be to our elected officials to address the specific problem in the specific areas that are effected [sic] with a community-based approach that promotes buy-in and acceptance from the community,” Smith said. 

However, it’s unclear what the Sheriff will do if Gov. Gary Herbert decides to issue his own mask mandate.