Marshall County sheriff says enforcing mask ordinance could be difficult

"I've thought about it, but I just don't see how we can enforce it," said Phil Sims, Marshall County Sheriff.

Posted: Jun 30, 2020 9:05 PM

Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey said she is not imposing a statewide mandatory mask order at this time.

She said that's because it would be hard to enforce.

We asked one North Alabama law enforcement agency about how or if they could enforce a mandatory masking order on the local level.

"I've thought about it, but I just don't see how we can enforce it," said Phil Sims, Marshall County Sheriff.

Sims says as of right now, he would need some guidance on enforcement if a mandatory mask order was put in place.

"If something like that does happen, I'll be reaching out to the attorney general's office for guidance," said Sims.

He says it's different from enforcing other laws like speeding or loitering.

"If you're loitering, then you are ordered a citation or brought to jail. Those things are spelled out in state law. There's no state law that I'm aware of, and somebody can correct me, but I don't know of any state law that says that you are told to wear a mask, you have to wear a mask," said Sims

At the Marshall County Courthouse, people are asked to wear a face covering while they are in the building, and the sheriff says they haven't had any issues with people not wearing one.

"We just put signs out. When people come in, we educate them on why. Here's your mask, please wear it and we haven't had one problem," he said.

Right now in Marshall County, there is not a mandatory masking ordinance, but the sheriff does encourage people to wear a mask for their safety.

"Our numbers are rising, not just here, but all over the state. I would encourage you to wear your mask and practice your social distancing of 6 feet," said Sims.

WAAY 31 also reached back out to the Marshall County Commission Chairman James Hutcheson Tuesday about a mandatory mask order for the county. He said he would leave that decision up to the governor.

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