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Natrona County mask mandate not creating calls for local law enforcement
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Natrona County mask mandate not creating calls for local law enforcement

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NC football

The Natrona County dance team wears masks at Cheney Alumni Field in Casper while cheering on the football team Aug. 28. In the nearly two weeks since the county has implemented a mask mandate, just one related call has been made to local law enforcement agencies.

Natrona County’s mask order hasn’t led to enforcement issues for local law enforcement agencies.

In fact, since the order went into effect almost two weeks ago, the Casper Police Department has only needed to respond to a single complaint from a business owner concerning a customer refusing to abide by the mask rules, according to a spokeswoman.

A spokesman for the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, meanwhile, said his agency hasn’t dealt with any calls concerning the mask order.

“We have not had any enforcement issues at all,” Sgt. Taylor Courtney said.

Natrona County’s mask order, like those enacted in the majority of Wyoming counties, requires people to wear face coverings while inside businesses, health care facilities and government buildings. There are some exemptions, including private offices, at a restaurant table or while exercising at the gym. People with certain medical conditions are exempt, as are children.

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Technically, violating the order could be a criminal offense, Natrona County Attorney Eric Nelson said at the time the order went into effect. But local officials stressed that they wouldn’t be going around looking for mask violators. Instead, they said, they would respond if a business owner struggles to get a customer to comply and wants the person to leave.

“The intent is to get this disease under control in our community, and we can only do that if everybody pitches in and does the right thing,” Nelson said then. “Are there going to be patrols? Is there any intent to issue citations? No. We’re really looking for the community to come together and follow the guidelines and conditions in this order.”

That’s happened exactly once since then, according to Casper police spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd. Employees at an east-side restaurant called police when a customer refused to wear a face covering. Restaurant representatives declined to serve the customer, they told officers who arrived.

The officers spoke with the customer, who left without an incident, Ladd said. Police did not issue any citations.

Law enforcement agencies in several jurisdictions in Wyoming have stressed they would not be actively looking for violations of county-wide mask orders that went into effect two weeks ago. Instead, most said they would respond to trespassing complaints if customers refused to abide by a business owner’s request to follow the order.

“This does not mean that we will conduct masking patrols,” Casper Mayor Steve Freel, himself a former police officer, said at a press conference two weeks ago. “We have absolutely zero interest in doing that.”

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Editor

Joshua Wolfson joined the Star-Tribune in 2007, covering crime and health before taking over the arts section in 2013. He also served as managing editor before being named editor in June 2017. He lives in Casper with his wife and their two kids.

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