KC DEM CLUB ONLINE-Policing Public Health Policy

Idaho’s response to COVID-19 is now primarily local or regional in nature. In other words, the Governor’s Office has delegated the monitoring and management of COVID-19 to the seven regional public health districts across the state. On Thursday, July 23, the Panhandle Health District voted in favor of a mask mandate for individuals in Kootenai County. Unfortunately, mandating masks did not receive universal public approval. In fact, some residents have actively resisted the recommendation even when frequenting businesses who wish to comply with the order. Policing public health policy falls on local law enforcement. As front-line workers, police officers face substantial exposure to Covid-19. Moreover, they are caught in the middle of the conflict that has been waged between those who want to comply with the recommended health precautions and those who resist them. The resulting protests and other flare-ups present a challenging dilemma for law enforcement. This week, the Dem Club will get a firsthand perspective of this ongoing issue from Coeur d’Alene Police Captain B. Rainard. He will explain the challenges and limitations of enforcing public health mandates and how they are dealing with the public resistance.

It is important to fully understand the limitations on law enforcement in dealing with a public health crisis. Therefore, please approach this subject with diplomacy. As a civic group, we are not seeking to confront the police but rather to understand their constraints regarding this important issue. Please be respectful, listen, and ask questions.

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