Sheriffs object to Washington’s COVID mask mandate

Gov. Inslee was “disappointed in any law enforcement officer who would encourage illegal behavior.”

Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza

Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza

Associated Press

OLYMPIA — At least two sheriff’s in Washington are objecting to Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide mandate for people to wear masks in public to slow the spread of coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza told a crowd: “Don’t be a sheep.” Snaza was talking about Inslee’s face-covering directive, which the governor announced earlier this week.

Snaza’s comments were captured by a photographer for The Daily Chronicle newspaper and posted to YouTube.

And on Wednesday, Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer also blasted Inslee’s order in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting. Songer called the governor an “idiot” and said he’s “overstepping his bounds, violating people’s constitutional rights.”

Snaza told the Northwest News Network his comments about Inslee’s mask requirement came at the end of a speech that lasted several minutes and was borne of frustration over the governor’s COVID-19 policies, including his previous “Stay Home” order.

“My frustration is we continue to listen to the governor’s requests without asking questions, without saying: ‘Well, wait a minute, there’s the other side to this’ and in particular wearing the mask,” Snaza said.

On Wednesday, during a news conference, Inslee responded to Snaza’s comments.

“I think we have to be disappointed in any law enforcement officer who would encourage illegal behavior,” Inslee said, adding that mask wearing “is about demonstrating our respect and care for the other people around us.”

The order making masks mandatory takes effect Friday. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a maximum fine of $1,000.

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