By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
The Crook County Sheriff’s Department will not issue citations to people who refuse to wear masks in spite of the Governor’s mandate that everyone wears them while in close proximity to others.
Sheriff John Gautney said the governor’s mandate does not supersede an individual’s constitutional right to choose to wear a mask.
In his Nov. 19 letter to Governor Brown, Sheriff Gautney acknowledged the danger to public health posed by COVID-19 but said individuals cannot be forced, by state mandate, to wear masks.
Based on comments on the sheriff’s Facebook page and those we spoke to in Prineville today, locals strongly agree.
“I believe it’s a marvelous letter. I’m glad that he wrote it,” said Lorraine Domine of Prineville. “We need to be able to control our own county.”
“If he won’t enforce it, I like that. I don’t like wearing a mask unless I’m required to,” said Dan Kelly of Prineville.
Gautney said the one-size-fits-all mask wearing mandate does not work on the rural side of the state.
He believes rural business owners and citizens have reached a point that they are fed up with losing their livelihoods due to the state ordered shut down.
‘You can suggest people wear masks. You can give them all the science data behind it and let them make their own choices. We’re adults. We should be allowed to make our own choices,” said Michelle DeBoard of Prineville. “I choose to wear a mask everywhere, that’s my choice. If I chose not to wear a mask, that should be my choice.”
Gautney says he will not have his deputies issue citations to people for not wearing masks or based on who they invite to their homes for Thanksgiving.
Gautney says people’s homes are sanctuaries that the government has no right to violate.