Local News

Durham residents wonder why some police officers aren't wearing masks

Posted July 1, 2020 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2020 5:56 p.m. EDT

— The city and county of Durham have mandated masks longer than Raleigh, longer than the state, but still some people are not wearing them in public.

The lack of enforcement, and the lack of masks on some of the faces of those who should enforce the requirement, has some residents and business owners frustrated and concerned.

At Hunky Dory Records on Ninth Street, "If you come into my place, I'm wearing a mask," said owner Michael Bell.

"This will help save businesses. If we would’ve done this a long time ago, people could be shopping at our places right now," he said.

He questioned the intelligence of a lack of compliance and a lack of enforcement.

Other Durham residents point to the fact that the very people who could be enforcing the mask rule – city police – are not following it themselves.

Last week, as police officers were arresting protesters, they were not wearing face coverings.

"Police officers feel like they’re an exception to the rules," said Miguel Staten. "The government – politicians, the mayor, the governor – are saying how much of a necessity these masks are to stop the spread. Yet, we have police officers walking around all day, dealing with the public and refusing to wear the masks themselves."

He has sent photos to the City Council showing police officers on a city bus not wearing masks.

"On my job, I’m required to wear a mask for a full, eight-hour shift. As long as I’m inside that building, I have to have this mask on," Staten said. "It’s uncomfortable, yes. But is it necessary to protect other people? It most definitely is."

In a statement, the Durham Police Department wrote that officers should be "setting the example."

“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. ... While we encourage voluntary compliance by our citizens, we expect more from our officers as they perform their duties,” the statement said.

A week into the statewide mask mandate, compliance remains a personal choice. Representatives of Raleigh and Chapel Hill police departments and the sheriff's offices of Orange and Durham counties all said they have yet to issue a single citation for failure to wear a mask.

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