Riley County police officers will give out face masks to residents if they see someone not wearing one as part of their enforcement efforts.
The police department on Friday received a donation of about 1,000 individually-wrapped surgical masks from Mercy Community Health Foundation, officials said during a Friday online coronavirus update.
A recent city mask ordinance requiring people to wear face coverings in indoor spaces and outdoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained is in effect through Sept. 7. While violations are punishable by small fines, RCPD will enforce the ordinance much like they have social distancing guidelines, which is through voluntary compliance and education.
“(This will) further the goal with what we’re trying to do with ‘enforcement’ of educating the public,” RCPD Assistant Director Kurt Moldrup said. “If we make contact with people that don’t have a mask or don’t fully understand things, we can offer them a mask … and create what would be a negative situation to make it a little more positive.”
Moldrup said officers in the community so far have been seeing a lot of people with masks more often than not.
He said people should remember there may be several different reasons someone may not be wearing a mask so they should be patient and not make assumptions about others.
Moldrup said the department had received a complaint from someone who believed a business was not enforcing the mask rule and confronted people about it.
Police discovered that the individual not wearing a mask did not do so because of a medical reason.
“To me that highlights the importance of everyone understanding that one, it’s a new ordinance so it’s kind of a new process for people, but also we need to not be making assumptions about the various community members that might not be wearing masks.”
Complaints about mask violations can be directed to RCPD at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of Friday, Riley County’s latest numbers, the county had 337 cases of the coronavirus, with 141 of those being active. Ascension Via Christi Hospital had no patients or potentially exposed patients being treated.