Police Will Not Enforce Mask Order in Texas’ Largest County, Say Unions
by Bob Price on April 24, 2020 at 10:30 AM
The police and sheriff’s union leadership in Texas’s largest county say they are not likely to enforce an order by County Judge Lina Hidalgo (D) requiring that masks to be worn by all in public. The order calls for officers to enforce the requirement with $1,000 fines on residents.
Harris County Fraternal Order of Police President David Cuevas told Click2Houston that he “does not know a single person in law enforcement that is going to enforce that order.”
Claiming Judge Hidalgo is overstepping her authority, Cuevas said, “We are stretched thin. Murders are up 63 percent and we’re concerned about having a citation to issue to citizens because they are not wearing a mask?”
“The citizens of Harris County are working hard together through this pandemic and do not need the added stress and fear of being fined or arrested for failing to wear a mask/face covering they may not have,” Cuevas said in a statement published by the Houston Chronicle.
It appears the Houston Police Officers Union agrees with the deputies union.
HPOU President Joe Gamaldi called the order by Judge Hidalgo “idiotic,” the Houston newspaper reported. He went on to call the measure “draconian” and said it would erode the trust and confidence between the public and officers.
The union asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) for a legal opinion on the matter.
“We do not have the time to be pawns in Hidalgo’s game of attempting to control the actions of the law-abiding, tax-paying individuals of our community,” Gamaldi stated. “Especially since this idiotic order, is possibly an unconstitutional one from the county judge.”
This is not Judge Hidalgo’s first episode with broad executive orders. In Texas, a county judge is the chief executive officer. In many Texas counties (like Harris County), the judge does not hear actual court cases at all, but simply presides over the commissioners court.
Earlier this month, State District Court Judge Herb Ritchie (D) blocked a previous order from Hidalgo calling for the release of thousands of convicted criminals and suspects due to Coronavirus concerns, Breitbart Texas reported.
Judge Ritchie serves as the administrative judge for all of the state criminal district courts in Harris County.
“Any Order issued by the County Judge of Harris County Texas to any Harris County agency, pertaining to bonds and/or release of felony prisoners or probationers assigned to a proper Court of felony jurisdiction is ultra vires, VOID ON ITS FACE and of NO FORCE AND EFFECT,” Judge Ritchie wrote in his court order.
Originally published on Breitbart Texas. Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face