To report mask ordinance violation in Springfield, call 911

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 6:45 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 at 7:15 PM CDT
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It is a highly contentious and often debated topic.

But in Springfield the ordnance requiring the wearing of masks just got extended until January 9th and the city is depending on the public to help with enforcement by reporting cases where businesses or individuals are not following the law.

Originally, the city asked people to call a general number to report complaints but that’s been changed.

Now, even though it’s not an emergency situation, the Springfield Police Department wants you to call 9-1-1.

“I think a lot of people have issues with when exactly are they supposed to call 911 and that isn’t new," said Springfield-Greene Co. 911 Director Kris Inman. "What people do tend to have is almost an awe of 911 and that creates a fear of using it. So what I always tell people is that if you need a police officer, a firefighter or an ambulance to respond, call 911.”

Springfield Police are in charge of investigating those reports of mask ordinance violations so the decision to have the public call 911 allows dispatchers to get out the information to officers quicker than if the calls were taken at the non-emergency number.

“If we get it from the Citizens Resource Center we may get it some time after it happened,” Inman explained. “We could still put in a call for dispatch but at that point it may be an hour or a day later. So the idea is to eliminate any middle man and get those calls to us, get them in the system and get them out as fast as possible.”

Obviously though the mask mandate calls will be lower on the list of police response priorities compared to life threatening situations.

“Injury accidents, assaults in progress, robberies or anything that’s life-threatening or in-progress, those are always going to come first," Inman said. “If you’ve got 40 or 50 calls and you’ve got 10 officers to take those calls you’ve got to prioritize them.”

As for being an extra burden on 911 dispatchers, so far they’ve only taken on-average about three COVID mandate complaints a day. That’s 313 total since July with 97 percent of those about mask violations, two percent about social distancing and one percent related to occupancy issues.

But certainly many people may not feel comfortable about the “tattletale” or “snitch” connotations to calling 911 to complain about mask violators.

“From a 911 perspective we don’t separate call-types from each other," Inman said. "If it’s against the law, if it’s an ordinance that’s being violated, call us. If you see somebody doing 40 mph in a 30 mph zone, call it in. If you see somebody in a store shoplifting, even if it’s a piece of gum, and you feel compelled to do so, call it in. As for the mask mandate I know it’s a very politicized, hot topic and hot button issue. But it’s a city ordinance and if you see someone violating that city ordinance and you feel compelled to call us, by all means do that.”

The Springfield-Greene Co. Health Department says it’s food inspection teams also do their part in enforcement as they check on COVID ordinance-related compliance when they visit restaurants and educate the businesses if there are problems that need to be fixed.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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