JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Three police departments in Jackson’s metro counties -- Madison, Ridgeland and Clinton -- haven’t cited any people or businesses for violating Gov. Tate Reeves’ executive orders on mask mandates, according to top officials within those agencies.
While a handful of law enforcement leaders in the state have said they would not enforce it because of limited resources, Madison Police Capt. Kevin Newman said they’re instead relying on residents and business owners to let them know if someone violates the order.
”I think it’s because the self-compliance aspect of it has taken hold and people are taking it upon themselves to voluntarily wear the masks, especially when they’re inside of a business, and that’s the reason why we have not had to issue any citations,” Newman said.
Newman said they’ve only had two unofficial complaints against businesses thus far and the department got those resolved within hours.
He added they’re relying on businesses to be the first line of defense.
“If you’ve been told to leave a business by the lawful owner of the business or the operator of the business, you have to leave; otherwise you’re committing trespassing. That’s where we kind of come into it, but we’ve never gotten to that point here in Madison,” Newman said.
Mask requirements in public places first became a requirement on July 13, when Reeves said Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties would be among ten others designated “hotspots” by the Governor’s Office and Mississippi State Department of Health.
In Clinton, spokesperson Mark Jones said they’ve had no enforcement issues and haven’t had to issue any citations because people have complied.
If they don’t, Jones said, that person could be charged with failure to obey a lawful order, which carries the same fines ($500) and jail time (six months) as violating the governor’s order.
Ridgeland Police Chief John Neal said they’ve only had to request people mask up a handful of times, and most are following guidelines.
Newman said people who see violations should let law enforcement or the business know, but advised strongly against approaching the person themselves.
“Wherever you are, you really should not confront that person you see is not in compliance with the mask mandate. That’s the last thing you want to do because you’re going to create a confrontation that could escalate into something else,” Newman said.