Jenks Police Chief weighs in on mask mandate, enforcement
Nov. 10, the Jenks City Council voted to approve a mask ordinance in Jenks requiring anyone in Jenks to wear a mask, while in public in certain situations.
It was said during the meeting the Jenks Police Department will be enforcing the new mask mandate.
“I think it is a good step,” Jenks Police Chief Cameron Arthur said. “The cases are rising so quickly. My officers interact with so many people on the streets being out of the front line. That is the perspective we have, since we are on the front line and interact with people, we’d love to be able to interact with people in a safe manner and prevent my guys and gals from getting sick and infected or spreading it to their families.
“We thought it was a good step forward, especially since we have so many cases now rising around the area. We see the cases every day by address and we are significantly higher than we were months ago. We don’t have a choice in the matter like other citizens do. They can stay home if they want to and interact with other people if they want to, it’s all by choice. Since it is not a choice for us, we need to be as safe as possible. We have two officers currently infected with COVID-19 out of situations where masks weren’t involved.”
The mask mandate went to effect immediately following the 4-3 vote by the city council and will run through Jan. 31, 2021.
“I believe the majority of Jenks citizens are already doing it,” Arthur said. “We understand we aren’t going to get total compliance. We don’t with anything. If someone says they can’t because they have a health problem, then we will listen to it and allow it. We aren’t going to be checking documents for that or doing anything that is overreaching. We are just going to be educating and telling people this is why they should wear their masks.”
Arthur said this takes the burden off those business owners, who would like to see people wearing masks in their businesses.
“I think it does assist those business owners, who didn’t want to be the bad guy and go out there and tell their customers to do it,” Arthur said. “But if I know the city is behind me and it is a law, I have a much easier time in keeping my family and me safe than trying to be the bad guy and drive off business.”
Arthur said he would be surprised if a citation is ever issued.
“We are not out there actively searching out people without masks and I want people to know that,” Arthur said. “My guys and gals are not going around and looking for people for without masks and stopping people without masks. That is not what we do. We are asking for voluntary compliance and I think we get it. If we get called by someone who really has a concern, which would have to be pretty big for us to have any kind of interaction more than just trying to educate people. I just don’t anticipate us ever having to issue a citation.”
Arthur said if the city council votes to approve a mandate, it is the police’s job to enforce it.
“If the city council passes an ordinance, it is our job to enforce that ordinance, but we are not going out there actively searching it out,” Arthur said. “We need the public supporting us and we are not going to go out and do anything to hurt that. I think the majority of our citizens already do wear masks and take personal responsibility, but unfortunately during this time of COVID-19, we can’t just believe in that anymore because the numbers have disproven it. I understand the fact that some people don’t like to be told what to do, I get that, but when the problem outweighs the enforcement, this is something we need to do.”
Arthur said enforcing the mask mandate does not add a lot to the officers’ plate when they are on the job.
“It is not a big burden on us,” Arthur said. “It is something that we said, if we get a call, we will go out there, but we don’t anticipate being inundated with calls and we haven’t been.”