The state had the tools to enforce mask mandates. It just didn’t want to. [Opinion]

The recent fracas regarding Sheriff Bianco’s refusal to enforce mask mandates is yet another puzzling position of those left of center. Not long ago, crimson-faced liberals bellowed their support for defunding the police. They wanted to diminish the ranks of law enforcement and reassign large chunks of historically designated duties to newly appointed entities such as mental health workers who would deescalate domestic violence conflicts.

Suddenly; however, Governor Gavin Newsom did an about face and felt it appropriate to task the police with shepherding a flock of supposed ne’er-do-well shirking their duty to wear a mask. Ignore the fact that historically, of all the questionable ancillary duties carried out by law enforcement, health laws have never really been on the list.

Of all the times to employ non badge wearers to a low danger job, mask enforcement was it. But no, that didn’t happen. Why you might ask. Well the answer is: It is an unpopular position, one surely destined to leave large portions of the public resentful of anyone engaging in what many consider the repression of their freedoms. What’s more, if the Governor employed designated civilian enforcers to carry out his wishes he would have to use state workers at state expense. By making local cops do his dirty work the Governor could pass the cost onto cities and counties.

By the way, state enforcement of COVID health rules is not without precedent. At the outset of the pandemic state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents were assigned to shut down establishments not adhering to state mandates. In addition, other state agents were tasked with shuttering gyms and health clubs not toeing the line. The state had the tools to enforce mask mandates. They just didn’t want to.

With local police intervention the Governor had deployed a buffer between himself and any problems associated with mask compliance. Protests about the subject could be placed squarely on the heads of local law enforcement leaders. Refusal by Sheriffs to enforce the mandate opened an opportunity to blame them for any viral surge.

As in most duties assigned to law enforcement, the mask issue was a lose-lose proposition. Politicians are a slippery bunch. If they can slither from responsibility and place blame on someone else they surely will. There are many layers to this mask enforcement issue. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems in a television sound bite or newspaper op ed. Unless and until citizens start researching issues for themselves they are destined to be led by propagandists from all sides.


Image Sources

  • Mask mandate: Shutterstock