Will law enforcement become the mask police?

Coronavirus

Mask requirements in Oregon, Washington raise questions

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mask requirements in Oregon and Washington are raising a lot of questions: Will law enforcement become the mask police?

The short answer: No.

State and local police in both Oregon and Washington say their job is not to arrests people for not wearing a mask. In fact, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office even said they worry about escalating tensions between police and the public.

A protester wearing a Rose City Justice facemask outside Portland City Hall, June 25, 2020 (KOIN)

Instead, law enforcement officials are taking the position they will educate people and remind therm the purpose of the masks is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But some agencies said they will step in if a customer without a mask is asked to wear one, told why, refuses and is then asked to leave an establishment

“If a business says, ‘Hey, I don’t want this individual inside anymore,’ they refuse to leave, thats trespassing,” said Sgt. Danny DiPietro with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. “We don’t want to arrest for trespassing. We want compliance.”

Several police agencies told KOIN 6 News it’s a public health matter, not a law enforcement matter. But in extreme cases, they would make arrests with violations involving COVID-19.

Health authorities said not to call the police on someone not wearing a mask. There could be certain reasons why they can’t.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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