The union issued guidance to officers after Mayor Sylvester Turner said they can start issuing $250 citations to people who are repeatedly told to wear a mask in public but refuse to comply with the request.
Mayor implements no-mask tickets. @HPOUTX reminds members to seek voluntary compliance before citations & "Under no circumstances shall a person be arrested for only failing to wear a mask." Union memo cites 10 exemptions to masks. @abc13houston https://t.co/yEENepEQju— Ted Oberg (@TedABC13) August 4, 2020
HPOU President Joe Gamaldi provided Eyewitness News with a copy of their message to members.
The Mayor has stated that he wants officers to begin enforcing the mask Executive Order from Governor Abbott. We want to remind officers that you should advise persons refusing to wear a mask that it is required by Governor Abbott's Executive Order and to please comply. While a $250 citation may be issued for anyone repeatedly refusing to comply and do not have a condition that exempts them, we also want to remind you that you should always give a verbal warning first and then use your discretion after that. Under no circumstances shall a person be arrested for only failing to wear a mask. Encourage those to wear a mask, just as we have done from day one and remember you have discretion on class C offenses.
Those exceptions to the mask order are as follows:
- Any person younger than 10.
- Any person with a medical condition that prevents wearing a face covering.
- Any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink.
- Any person while the person is (a) exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and (b) maintain a safe distance from other people not in the same household.
- Any person driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver.
- Any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal.
- Any person in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water.
- Any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.
- Any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.
- Any person giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience.
Eyewitness News reached out to the Houston Police Department to see if it has issued a directive to officers about mask enforcement and whether any citations have been given since the Governor's Executive Order in July.
We're waiting for a response.
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