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"The statewide face covering order is a public health directive. It is not a mandate for law enforcement to issue citations and arrest violators." The bottom line: law enforcement is telling Montana's governor that they cannot and will not enforce his mandatory mask order.

That was a message sent loud and clear by at least 38 different Montana sheriffs sent out late last week. The sheriffs were responding to the governors statewide order requiring face masks in public.

Here's the full guest opinion column signed by 38 Montana sheriffs, as originally posted by the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office:

Why did these Sheriffs need to speak up? As we expected, civil disobedience has been taking place across Montana with many Montanans refusing to be forced to wear masks. This, in turn, has led to angry callers flooding the 911 call centers with absurd complaints about people not wearing masks, leading the Lake County Sheriff's Office to post the following update:

Our 911 Dispatch Center has been overloaded with calls from the public regarding citizens and/or businesses that they feel are not complying with Governor Bullock’s face covering
mandate.

This is NOT deemed an emergency and it is inappropriate to call either the emergency or non-emergency number for those that are non-compliant in the opinion of the citizen.

Law Enforcement will not be dispatched to these calls. Using the services of armed law enforcement to force the face mask covering mandate is not an effective use of local law
enforcement’s service.

We urge citizens to be responsible and practice prudent safety precautions as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.