CINCINNATI — Cincinnati police officers will not enforce Gov. Mike DeWine's order requiring masks in public for counties with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, the department announced Tuesday.
DeWine's order begins in seven counties, including Hamilton and Butler, on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Hamilton and Butler counties are both classified as "Level 3 (Red)" counties due to the number of COVID-19 cases recently seen in those areas.
Because it is a "health related order," Cincinnati Health Department sanitarians will instead check areas for compliance. Sanitarians will also provide a mask to people who do not have one and will only impose a $25 fine to violators as a "last resort."
"Citizens should not call our local emergency communications center (9-1-1) or the non-emergency number (765-1212) if they observe a potential violation of this order," police said in a statement. "If a potential violation of this mandate is observed it should be directed to the local Health Department officials."
STATEMENT ON MASK MANDATE FOR HAMILTON COUNTY pic.twitter.com/fvTtAbM5F2— Cincinnati Police Department (@CincyPD) July 7, 2020
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones also said he and his deputies will not enforce the mask order when it goes into effect, saying police are busy enough as it is.
"I want to make sure everybody understands: I am not the mask police. I am not going to enforce any mask-wearing. That is not my responsibility, that is not my job. People should be able to make that choice themselves," Jones said.
Jones also asked people not to call Butler County 911 to report mask violators.
"If the health departments want to control and take care of who's not wearing a mask, let them put a little yellow light on their car and they can stop people and they can go in. They will not like the response. People are tired, people are wore out," he said at a press conference Tuesday.
Norwood Police released a similar statement Tuesday, referring calls for violations to the Norwood Health Department.
"The Norwood Police Dept will not be enforcing this Health Dept order and ask if you have concerns to please call our Norwood Health Dept and not our non-emergency line or E-911. We will assist our Health Dept if they request assistance," the department's statement read.