Sheriff Jim Hammond discussed how the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department will be enforcing the new mask mandate during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. People who do not wear a mask in crowded public areas or in businesses can be fined $50 or face up to 30 days in jail. However, Sheriff Hammond said that he did not want to focus on sending people to jail or even fining them, if possible.
“We don’t’ want to focus on that.
It’s not my intent as sheriff to harass people about that,” said the sheriff. “We want to ask them to be safe, and give warnings about it, and hopefully they will comply with it.”
He said warnings are the preferred method for law enforcement when it comes to enforcing this new mandate. Sheriff Hammond also pointed out that masks are not required in every space, such as in wooded areas or in uncrowded spaces.
“We will be talking to people, and as we see violations from time to time,” said Sheriff Hammond.
He said that in the Hamilton County Jail, all employees are masked. He said that if a citation is written, it is up to the judge and judicial system to determine if that person will need to go to jail for 30 days. He said there is currently space in the jail, and he said the jail could take “several hundred” if it had to, although Sheriff Hammond said that is not desirable.
“I think that the judges are taking the same position, and they want people to be healthy,” said the sheriff.
In regards to repeat offenders, the same rules apply. Sheriff Hammond said those who violate the mask ordinance multiple times will have their punishment decided by judges.
“If we got a repeated complaint and had to issue a citation, we would note that in the report, and it would be up to the judges in imposing a sentence,” said the sheriff.
Sheriff Hammond also said that, aside from a few exceptions, all deputies will be wearing masks on the job. He said that when it comes to people who are homeless or have difficulty acquiring masks, he has asked businesses to supply masks to people.
“We are still asking businesses to provide some. It is up to each individual to have their own mask,” said Hammond, who noted there is no requirement for law enforcement to provide masks to people they may cite.
“A lot of businesses are doing it. In one case, I was at my dentist yesterday and they all had masks. They were also giving masks to people who didn’t. You’ll still see some of that.”
He said some people, such as those who have asthma or are hearing impaired, are exempt from this mandate. He said that if law enforcement determine people are “faking” a condition to get around the mandate, a citation will be issued and that person will need to explain their actions in court.