CEDAR CITY, Utah — Iron County Sheriff Kenneth K. Carpenter appears to blame rising domestic violence crimes, murders and suicides on state mandates imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a post to Facebook Monday, Carpenter offered an explanation for why he would not enforce Gov. Herbert's statewide mask mandate issued on Nov. 8.
Carpenter reaffirmed he would not enforce the mandate, but went on to say the rise in violent crimes in his jurisdiction appear to be linked to previous mandates imposed in Utah.
The sheriff says his department has seen an increase in domestic violence calls, along with four homicides. He added there had been a rise in suicides and unintended deaths because people chose to die at home rather than call for medical aid.
"I believe these are the unintended consequences of mandates that have caused many to experience depression or other mental health disorders and have led to over four times the number [of] deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Iron County during the same time frame." wrote Carpenter.
"While any premature death is unfortunate, we must find solutions to not only the spread of COVID-19, but the mental health and well-being of our community members. I believe part of the solution is to end mandates."
Carpenter wrote that he felt the need to offer further explanation after FOX 13 first reported his refusal to back the governor's emergency order. While appearing on a radio show, Carpenter said residents in his county did not need a mandate to "do the right thing."
In Monday's post, Carpenter did ask that residents show consideration for businesses that follow the mask mandate, or face charges.
"This means that if a store owner requires masks to enter, that is their right," wrote Carpenter. "If you wish to shop there you need to comply with their requirement. Your right is to choose to shop elsewhere if you don't want to wear a mask, but bickering with them will only result in trespassing."
Carpenter added that he expects Iron County citizens to cooperate in social distancing and mask-wearing in congested areas.
"Please let us show the rest of the state that in Iron County we do the right things for the right reasons without being compelled by government mandates."