St. Croix County Sheriff's Office will not enforce Wisconsin mask mandate

The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office will not be enforcing Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers' mask mandate once it goes into effect this weekend, according to a post written by Sheriff Scott Knudson on the office's Facebook page.

"While the governor likely has noble intentions, the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office will continue to focus on crimes and public safety offenses, as opposed to seeking out or responding to complaints about those without face coverings," wrote Knudson.

Starting Saturday, August 1, people in Wisconsin will be required to wear face masks or face coverings indoors. Knudson wrote that while the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic as a "serious health concern," the virus remains a public health concern that "should be left to public health officials." 

"From a practical standpoint and with limited staff resources, having law enforcement respond to investigate someone not wearing a mask (where the penalty is a civil forfeiture, not a crime), removes deputies from doing what the citizens look for us to do," wrote Knudson.

He also said calling 911 to report possible mask violations could tie up emergency dispatchers.

According to Governor Evers' order, Wisconsin has seen a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases this month with 61 of 72 counties (84 percent) representing 96 percent of the state’s population experiencing high COVID-19 activity. As of Thursday, there have been more than 52,000 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide and 919 deaths.