• Arkansas governor issued a mandate to wear masks in public
  • Some police officers resist the enforcement of this mandate
  • Some officers say it is constitutional overreach, others say they don't have the manpower for it

Some police departments in the United States refuse to implement mask mandates amid the coronavirus pandemic.

More U.S. states are enacting mandates asking people to wear face masks whenever they venture out in the public in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, there are some government entities like police departments in a couple of states refusing to enforce those mandates.

Marshall Police Department Chief Lang Holland believes the coronavirus threat is an overstatement. This is why he only wears masks whenever he is inside businesses that require them. He also does not oblige his officers to wear masks.

some US police not enforcing mask mandate
some US police not enforcing mask mandate Orna Wachman - Pixabay

Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a mandate requiring residents to wear masks whenever they are in public places. Amid the call for cooperation, Holland said his department is not going to enforce the order in his town of around 1,300 residents. The police chief called the order an unconstitutional overreach. The police chief, who announced he supports President Trump, added that policies like that must not be dictated by a nanny state, Fox News reported.

"All I'm saying is if you want to wear a mask, you have the freedom to choose that," Holland said.

Holland is only one of the several sheriffs and police chiefs in Arkansas and other states who announced they will not enforce statewide mask mandates. Their reasons vary, with some of them saying they do not have enough manpower to respond to every complaint regarding the non-wearing of masks. Others, like Holland, reject outright the legal validity of such mandates, as per U.S. News and World Report.

The pushback got some health officials concerned, saying the lack of enforcement could weaken what they call a simple and much-needed step to curb the spread of the coronavirus. "If people undermine that mandate, they undermine the public health benefits of masking in the setting of this pandemic, and that just doesn't make any sense to me," said Dr. Cam Patterson of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He is among those who called for a statewide mandate.

With surging coronavirus infection cases and hospitalizations, over half of all the states in the U.S. have signed orders mandating the wearing of masks in most public settings. Health experts say there is overwhelming public support for such mandates and even the U.S. President himself, who has long dismissed the wearing of masks, has recently said it was patriotic to wear a mask.

The most vocal pushback to mask mandates is coming from different entities, including the police, in Republican-led states. These states had previously opposed strict coronavirus measures like mask mandates and were also among those who aggressively reopened their economies. Hutchison is among the handful of governors who did not sign an order requiring residents in Arkansas to wear masks or stay-at-home, although when faced with worsening numbers in the state, he finally relented and issued a mask mandate.