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Butler County sheriff says he will not enforce DeWine’s mask mandate

HAMILTON — A sheriff in one of Ohio’s seven Level Three Alert counties said he will not enforce Gov. Mike DeWine’s mandate for masks or face coverings in public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones appeared on WXIX/FOX-19, a Cincinnati TV channel, on Tuesday and stated his position.

“I’m not going to be the mask police,” he said. “I’m not going to enforce mask policy to where my deputies stop people and say, ‘Put your mask on.’ That’s not going to be the case. It’s out of control, and if people want to wear a mask, then they should be able to wear a mask and, if not, they shouldn’t.”

Jones said his department has been hit hard by layoffs and budget cuts from the pandemic. He advised residents to not call 911 for incidents of people in public without masks. Butler County is part of the Cincinnati metropolitan area.

Jones, a Republican, is known for his frequent appearances in the media as an outspoken conservative.

DeWine issued the mandate on Tuesday for seven counties — Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery and Trumbull counties — in Ohio that were rated as Level Three in the state’s four-level alert system for the pandemic.

The governor said the directive would remain in place until the counties dropped to a Level Two designation, the level Lawrence County is currently listed at.

DeWine’s mandate came a day after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice made face coverings mandatory statewide for those in public in his state.