Officers respond to hundreds of calls for masking ordinance violations in Springfield

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 9:52 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield’s masking ordinance has been in place for months now.

There are nearly 3000 positive cases of COVID-19 in Greene County Health officials say data shows that masking continues to be the best way to slow the spread.

But enforcing it is a challenge.

“It’s not something that we thought we’d be doing,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams.

He says officers have been called out for complaints that someone isn’t wearing a mask nearly 1,300 times since the mandate went into effect just over 4 months ago.

“We’ve had a very good luck with compliance over all in the city of Springfield,” he said.

Williams says the law is still a little muddled for some people.

“When we contact people a couple of things usually come into play. One, they misunderstood the or weren’t aware of the ordinance provisions,” he explained.

It’s the reason why pamphlets and signs have been created and distributed.

“An example an officer just gave me the other day, I think it was a restaurant, they thought that the six foot distancing, social distancing, in the back meant that they weren’t required to wear masks as well. No, you have to do both,” said Williams.

He says it’s policing people in the community that’s the challenge.

“The individual ones are a lot harder. A lot of those 911 calls are about somebody seeing somebody going into a convenience store or business and they are not wearing a mask. By the time officers get there that person is gone,” he said.

Officers have responded to nearly 600 of those 911 calls.

“I think the way that officers are handling it, with requesting compliance and really educating people and having a discussion, it’s community engagement, is really having the desired effect,” said Williams.

Officers have yet to write a ticket.

“That’s the goal, education and compliance. Getting everybody to realize that they’re doing this for the safety of all,” he said.

Williams says he wants people to take the ordinance seriously. Officers are prepared to write citations if necessary.

The fine for violating the law is $100.

Right now, the ordinance is in effect until January 9 and could be extended.

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