NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Wear a mask or face a $100 fine. That warning came from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Wednesday. Many are asking who is going to enforce it? Law Enforcement agencies in southeast New Mexico say it’s not them.
“Violators putting our state at risk are subject to a $100 fine in the same way you’re subject to a fine if you don’t have a seat belt,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton feels otherwise and said this new mask order by the governor is not a law and is not going to waste his deputies time to enforce it.
“I’m not going to change my stance, a mandate is not a law. Legislators make laws, not the governors not the presidents,” said Helton.
Lea County Sheriff said his department is not the agency listed in the order, so he believes it’s not his responsibility or jurisdiction to enforce it.
“I’ll go back to the original health order that was issued in April under the Department of Health and New Mexico to get their opinion on the mask order. Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington is not going to write any tickets.
“The Chaves County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing, writing citations or doing anything of that nature,” said Sheriff Mike Herrington.
All the departments said the new order is very tricky because they don’t believe there is a law on the books that not wearing a mask falls under.
“The fact is that we don’t have any statutes or even an ordinance we can enforce in reference to this. If it becomes an issue we can always refer to State Police,” said Sgt. Perez with the Artesia Police Department.
News 13 reached out to the New Mexico State Police Captain for the southeast for his thoughts on the new order but did not hear back. The Quay County Sheriff took to Facebook to tell people that his deputies will not be writing tickets for people not wearing face masks.