Local law enforcement won't enforce Newsom's mask mandate, but urge residents to comply voluntarily

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- You might see another kind of 'law enforcement' wearing different uniforms.

Strike teams made up of various agencies are being deployed across California with one goal: to make sure we're following state guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.

While the strike teams will focus on making sure businesses are in compliance, local sheriff's officials are prioritizing crime over new COVID-19 restrictions.

"If they want to remind people they should be wearing masks, I'm not prohibiting it. We're not going to be making arrests or citiations," said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.

Sheriff Mims said while they're in support of Governor Newsom's stricter state guidelines, they need to prioritize their resources on fighting crime.

"We're answering DV calls from Auberry and Prather to the Coalinga-Mendota area, we're answering to robbery calls. Why would we interrupt that emergency call to enforce mask regulation?" Mims said.

Fresno County health officials said they haven't been given any direction from the state.

"As far as the strike team mobilization, we haven't been told they're going to be here. Both Cal OSHA and ABC have local offices so I would expect those folks will be active and working with our businesses," said David Pomaville with Fresno County's public health department.

Along with strike teams, the governor also announced more broadened restrictions for businesses, such as bars and restaurants, where people often crowd.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, along with county health officials, is implementing more closures ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

"I'm asking you to take it seriously and so much so I requested the county, and they granted to close three of our parks because of the mass gatherings and this disease spreading rapidly - Yosemite Lake, Henderson Park and Hagaman park in Hilmar," he said.

Law enforcement is pushing for voluntary compliance and asking people to do their part in wearing a mask to keep people safe.
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