Harris County, Texas, which includes the city of Houston, is issuing a court order today mandating the use of face masks in public by anyone over the age of 10. Those who do not comply face penalties, including possible fines and jail time.
Judge Lina Hidalgo is issuing the order, which will go into effect Monday. But there has already been plenty of push back from local officials, including Houston Police Officers’ Union president and National Fraternal Order of Police vice president Joe Gamaldi. In a statement issued shortly after news of the court order was made public, Gamaldi lambasted the judge and the order.
Everyone should be wearing a mask in public, I wear 1 everyday. But making not wearing 1 punishable by law, and asking our officers to enforce it, will do irreparable damage to our relationship with the community. We are already stretched too thin without having to enforce this. pic.twitter.com/BwxEJgHvkq
— Joe Gamaldi (@JoeGamaldi) April 22, 2020
The HPOU has reached out to the Attorney General’s office to determine whether the judge’s order is constitutional. Law enforcement’s first duty is to the Constitution. They are not required to enforce laws or mandates that do not align with the restraints on government put in place by our founding fathers.
It has come to our attention that Court Judge Lina Hidalgo will issue an order this afternoon for all of Harris County, making it mandatory for anyone over the age of 10 to wear a mask in public. Now we want to be very clear, the Houston Police Officers’ Union believes everyone should be wearing a mask in public, in order to protect themselves from the virus and we are encouraging all of our officers to wear a mask. However, we draw he line at the draconian measures Hidalgo has decided to engage in. Our officers work every single day to bridge the gap with our community and earn their trust. We will not stand by idly and allow Hidalgo to tear that bridge down with her horrific leadership and echo chamber decision making.
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The HPOU has made contact with the Attorney General’s Office seeking an opinion on the legality of imposing a criminal penalty/fine for anyone not wearing a mask in public. While we wait for that opinion, we are reminding and informing our officers that they have DISCRETION, DISCRETION, DISCRETION in matters such as these. It is clear the so-called leader of Harris County lacks any critical thinking skills, but let me assure the public, our officers do! The last thing any of us need to d is kick our community while they are down.
Houston Police Officers are already stretched entirely too thin during the COVID-19 pandemic. Violent crime is up this year (murders up by 35%), property crime is up (burglaries by nearly 30%), and HPD officers are staffing testing centers across the city. We do not have time to be pawns in Hidalgo’s game of attempting to control he actions of law abiding, tax paying individuals of our community. Especially since this idiotic order is possibly an unconstitutional one from the County Judge.
Let me assure he community, our officers will continue to serve on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, risking out lives and our health to protect you. We will continue to serve with honor and respect our community despite Hidalgo’s best efforts to earn that respect.
Other leaders in the community have also spoken out. Councilman Greg Travis, who used his own breathing condition as an example of viable objections to the order, asked, “I don’t like being put into this position. If (Judge Hidalgo) asks me to put on a hazmat suit, do I have to put on a hazmat suit? Some things should be left to people because they know their individual conditions and individual situations.”
Efforts by hyper-leftists have been ramping up ever since the coronavirus crisis started paralyzing the country. Authoritarianism has been invoked in multiple cities, counties, and states, and while there have been some Republicans embracing an overabundance of caution, it has been mostly Democrats who are pushing these draconian measures to flatten the curve.
Law enforcement’s first duty is to the Constitution. They are tasked with its defense even when doing so is contrary to mandates by politicians. Law enforcement across the nation should follow Joe Gamaldi’s lead and push back against draconian policies.
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