On Oct. 7 Victor Mayor Will Frohlich sent a letter to the Teton County Sheriff’s Office requesting that the sheriff provide a bi-weekly report on actions taken by officers to enforce the city’s mask ordinance.
“School has started, fall is in the air and flu season is near,” the mayor wrote in his letter. “Our busier than expected tourism season is starting to wind down. All seems normal, except we are still fighting toe to toe with a global pandemic. This is a fight we cannot afford to walk away from or haphazardly attempt to conquer.”
Frohlich said there was no specific event that triggered the letter, but that the community had to hold strong in the fight. He noted that every hospital in eastern and southeast Idaho just signed a joint statement of support asking communities to practice personal responsibility.
“Hospitals throughout the region are experiencing the highest number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 ever seen throughout the pandemic,” the joint statement from Oct. 15 reads. “This is placing a significant strain on hospital resources. Healthcare workers are the most valuable asset in the healthcare system, even more so than bed availability.”
Frohlich read his letter aloud during the Victor City Council meeting on Oct. 14, and informed the council that he hadn’t yet heard back from the sheriff’s office. Then, on Oct. 15, TCSO sent its first report, which included all enforcement actions taken since the council passed the ordinance in July.
The report includes only four instances of mask enforcement, two of which were requested by Frohlich when Victor businesses had not posted signage about the ordinance. To date, no warnings or citations have been issued, and the sheriff has said in the past that he did not intend to enforce mask requirements criminally.
Victor paid the sheriff’s office $54,000 in 2020 and budgeted $64,000 for the next fiscal year for an enhanced coverage contract, meaning the sheriff’s office is required to enforce city ordinances.
Frohlich wrote in his letter that he had had good conversations on the matter with both of the candidates now running for sheriff, as well as a working relationship with Liford up to this point, but that if the sheriff’s office did not submit the mask enforcement record, the city would terminate its contract.
“I do not want to bring our agreement up for termination, but also cannot sit on the sidelines while some of our local laws are ignored,” he wrote.
Councilwoman Stacy Hulsing thanked Frohlich for taking action. “I’m very sensitive to the workers in our downtown businesses and the predicament they’re put in every day as you watch people blatantly ignore the mask signs,” she said. “If they try to address it, it usually becomes a confrontation. A little bit of support would be great.”