KGVO reached out to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office to get an update from Sheriff T.J. McDermott on the latter that was sent out nearly two weeks ago on law enforcement’s role in the new masking ordinance.

Below, find Sheriff McDermott's response:

                           Missoula County Sheriff’s Statement

 

  • Following the Governor’s July 15 Directive requiring all businesses, government offices, or other persons responsible for indoor spaces open to the public to require and take reasonable measures to ensure that all employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, or other members of the public wear a face covering, Montana Sheriff’s issued an Opinion Editorial (July 17) regarding Personal Responsibility Required to Keep Vulnerable Citizens Safe and Montana’s Economy Open. I support the information provided in the OP-Ed and its aim to educate the communities we serve.

 

  • The editorial is not a statement or denial of enforcing the Governor’s directive.

 

  • The editorial is to aid our community members in understanding why we are requesting that they do not call 911 when they see an individual in an indoor public place not wearing a mask. Building and business owners and management of indoor public spaces are responsible for enforcing the directive to wear a mask on their business or property.  Complaints should be made to the business first, so they have the opportunity to try and correct the behavior, and then to the Missoula City-County Health Department.

 

  • A portion of the editorial states, “As leaders in your community and the elected officials who represent you and your constitutional rights, we want to ensure we are all doing our part to protect the vulnerable citizens in our state while also keeping Montana open and our private sector business partners thriving.” Leadership is many things, but it includes keeping those who work for us and those we serve safe.

 

  • With that in mind, on July 6, prior to the Missoula City-County Health order or the Governor’s directive, I recognized the increased risk of exposure due to rising COVID-19 case numbers to our deputies, detention officers and civilian staff members and the public we serve on a daily basis. Wearing a face covering is one more step we can take to decrease the chances of contracting COVID-19.  Taking into account CDC guidelines and seeking guidance from multiple sources, I mandated the wearing of face-coverings by all members of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) when interacting with the public.

 

  • Absent an officer safety issue and/or circumstance that necessitates otherwise; MCSO staff shall wear a face-covering and/or mask during all interactions with members of the public.

 

  • The goal of the mandate was to keep MCSO deputies, detention officers, civilian staff members, and the public serve as safe as possible from a potential COVID-19 exposure.

 

  • We encourage community members to carefully read the provisions of this and other Directives and Health Orders and direct questions to the issuing agency.

 

  • It is an honor and a privilege to serve in a county where our community members look out for and take care of each other. Together we will get through this.