‘Unenforceable’: Law enforcement says mask mandate is about education not tickets

Law enforcement says mask mandate is about education not tickets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Despite North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s mask mandate, you won’t have to worry about a ticket for not wearing a mask.

Law enforcement officials said the order actually discourages them from ticketing or citing individuals. Local sheriffs in our area are calling it “unenforceable.”

Instead, they said the order is written in a way that encourages them to educate the community on how to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Content Continues Below

“We aren’t looking for violations and I don’t know anyone who is,” said Tony Underwood, public information officer for the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

Law enforcement agencies like the Union County Sheriff’s Office said the mask mandate from Cooper doesn’t come with any enforcement for individuals.

“It says specifically that law enforcement is not authorized to charge individuals for violation of not wearing a mask,” said Underwood.

Iredell Sheriff Darren Campbell said it’s unenforceable and unconstitutional because it’s not an actual law, but they are encouraging people to do what’s best for their health.

“The medical people obviously know what they’re speaking of,” said Campbell. “If you look at the order, it is very vague. Law enforcement cannot criminally charge these cases.”

But sheriff’s offices and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department agree that they can and will enforce trespass charges.

If someone refuses to wear a mask at a business that requires one, the business can call law enforcement authorities for help.

“That becomes a trespass issue, really for our purposes when we respond to that type of call it’s not mask-related,” said Underwood.

Cooper extends Phase 2 restrictions; mask mandate in effect Friday

Many of the agencies in our area said they’re looking at this order as an opportunity to educate the community.

“If we get a chance to speak with people, who aren’t wearing masks, especially people in large groups. It is an opportunity to encourage people to respect others’ concerns about being healthy,” said Underwood.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement:

“The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and its personnel will comply with the mandates as stated in Governor Cooper’s Executive Orders 147. MCSO has implemented a mandatory wearing of face coverings for several weeks now in our detention facilities. All MCSO personnel have been issued face coverings and we will be wearing our face coverings.”

“As to the active enforcement of the public as it pertains to face coverings, MCSO will not be out citing citizens for not wearing face coverings. We would encourage the citizens to voluntarily comply with all laws to include Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 147 and to follow the advice of the public health experts so that we can mitigate the spread of this virus.”