This post is not meant to be political in nature, and I only speak for my agency, it merely details some of the reasons why it is impossible for the Otero County Sheriff’s Office to cite or charge individuals for not wearing masks. Some of the media has seemed to put a political twist on this, and so I am going to tell it like it is. First of all, we, as many law enforcement agencies are also experiencing are short staffed. By August 1 we will be down two patrol positions out of 9, including myself. We struggle to keep up with the current calls for service and adding something like citing individuals for not wearing a mask is nowhere near the top of our priority list. If the shortage continues, we may even look into additional prioritization of calls in order to focus on criminal activity the best we can.
As law enforcement struggles with now being seen by some as “The bad guys”, for something that didn’t even occur in our state, our deputies work hard to do good, and do it professionally. The court process is backed up significantly, and for what few deputies we do have to be tied up on matters that are not criminal in nature, would exhaust what few resources we do have. I would imagine that every department, including ours will be facing budget cuts, that will further reduce the level of service we can provide, but our focus will remain to prevent and investigate criminal activity. I could not look a victim in the eye and tell them that our response was greatly delayed because we were issuing a ticket to someone who wasn’t wearing a mask, and that took priority over their situation. It is just not going to happen.
As you read this statement, you may not agree, and I can respect that. I have two people in my home with compromised immune systems, and so I will wear a mask. It is my choice and whether or not you wear a mask is your choice. There may be employees of businesses across the state asking that you wear a mask inside their business, if that is the case, and you don’t agree, be kind…they are doing their job and trying to keep their business open. I may not fully agree with the mandate, however I do practice social distancing and do what I can to keep those I care about safe. I also feel you, as a citizen, have the right to protect your health and personal safety how you see fit.
Public places will fall under the authority of the Health Department, and I do not control or influence their activity. Serious violations of their guidelines may lead to a legal remedy, through a civil process, and they are the professionals that may guide you or answer any questions pertaining to public places or events. I wish all of you well,
Sheriff Shawn M. Mobley
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