Lincoln County Sheriff: Policing Mask Mandate Not Proper Role But Businesses Can Require Masks

Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson said his officers would not enforce a countywide mask mandate but said businesses had the right to require masks if they saw fit.

Annaliese Wiederspahn

November 19, 20202 min read

Shane johnson lincoln county

In light of the Lincoln County Public Health Office receiving the OK to implement a countywide mask mandate, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said its officers not enforce it.

Sheriff Shane Johnson said he doesn’t believe the sheriff’s office should enforce such a policy.

“I continue to believe that wearing a mask, like other health choices, is a personal choice,” Johnson said. “I don’t believe the policing of a mask is the proper role of the Sheriff’s Office.”

However, Johnson did say he is requiring his deputies and other personnel under his authority to wear a mask when interacting with the public and with coworkers because of the reported health benefits.

“I understand that a mask is not only for the protection of the person wearing it but also for those they may come in contact with,” he said.

He also said that businesses in Lincoln County have the right to require patrons to wear a mask in their establishments.

“That is their right,” the sheriff said.

“If we respect the rights of others, we also respect our own and avoid unnecessary division. Liberty and personal responsibility rely on each other,” he said.

Johnson wasn’t the only law enforcement authority on Wednesday to announce enforcement of a mask mandate would not be carried out.

Neighboring Sweetwater County’s sheriff voiced a similar opinion although said nothing about a business’ right to require a mask or if his office would require use of masks.

“Your Sheriff’s Office will NOT take enforcement action by issuing citations or arresting violators for a public health directive that I believe is contrary to our constitutional liberties as citizens,” Sheriff John Grossnickle said.

On the other hand, the sheriff’s office in Park County announced it would “set a positive example and implicitly adhere to the Public Health Order.”

Teton County was the first county in Wyoming to impose a mask mandate. Since then a total of 12 counties in Wyoming have adopted similar mandates.

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Annaliese Wiederspahn

State Political Reporter