Police in Bloomington, Ind., are under scrutiny for not wearing face masks while coming in close range of other people, despite county rules that mandate face coverings outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
Video shot by an Indiana University student and published by the Indiana Daily Student, the student-run paper at the university in Bloomington, shows an officer not wearing a mask while making contact with a person taken into a police car. Video also shows an officer apparently blowing air to demonstrate the proper use of a breathalyzer while standing near a person sitting inside the car.
“Is there a reason he doesn’t have a mask on when he’s this close?” Patrick Saling, the student who filmed, asks police at one point in the footage.
“Yes,” someone responds.
Saling repeatedly urges police to wear a face covering. At one point, he asks an officer sitting in a car about the issue.
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“I don’t wear a mask,” the officer says, adding later: “I don’t like ’em.”
Bloomington Police Capt. Ryan Pedigo said in an email statement Monday officers are required to wear masks in buildings and when they can’t maintain at least six feet distancing outside, but “there may be times in emergency situations that officers exit their car quickly without a mask to deal with situations.”
He accused the newspaper article of being “inaccurate” and denied he “defended a decision to not wear masks on the job.” Pedigo also said he stood by his statement to the newspaper that Saling had attempted “to bait officers into a confrontation,” adding the chief of police plans to contact Indiana University’s dean of students about “students that make repeated attempts to create civil unrest and problems within the City of Bloomington.”
The video was taken Friday night and captures the arrest of an individual who appeared to be intoxicated, according to the Daily Student.
Monroe County’s mask policy does not list an exception for law enforcement, but it makes an exception for “bona fide emergency situations in which a person lacks the time or the means to put on a face covering before entering an indoor or outdoor public space.”
The City of Bloomington’s legal department did not immediately respond to an inquiry about how the mask mandate applies to law enforcement.