Contact tracing means calling people who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to provide guidance and support.
Salem Statesman Journal
SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon State Police trooper is on leave and the state police superintendent has publicly apologized after the uniformed officer allegedly refused to wear a face mask inside a coffee shop Wednesday morning.
After a video of four troopers not wearing masks was made public Thursday and employees alleged one trooper said the mask mandate violated his “civil liberties,” OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton called the troopers’ behavior “embarrassing and indefensible.”
Officials said Thursday the trooper who refused to wear a mask has been placed on leave and the incident is under investigation. None of the troopers have been identified by the OSP.
Hampton’s apology came after The Oregonian/OregonLive first reported the incident at Allan’s Coffee & Tea in Corvallis.
Not only are police officers expected to comply with the Governor’s emergency declaration orders, I expect them to set the example for Oregon’s residents as we strive to fight this invisible enemy- the Coronavirus.
— Oregon State Police (@ORStatePolice) July 2, 2020
The trooper allegedly refused store assistant manager Travis Boss’ request for him to wear the face coverings made mandatory by Gov. Kate Brown at all public indoor spaces throughout Oregon starting Wednesday.
Boss said the trooper told him: “Gov. Brown has no authority to take our civil liberties. We aren’t going to wear masks.”
The trooper then placed his order and when asked what he thought about the mask mandate, he allegedly replied, “(Expletive) Kate Brown.”
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In footage shared by the coffee shop, three other state troopers — also not wearing masks — were in the coffee shop.
Boss told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he felt compelled to serve the troopers because they were uniformed police officers. He had previously turned away other customers for not wearing masks.
The coffee shop reported the incident to local police.
Brown’s order requiring people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces started Wednesday as the state has seen a spike in coronavirus cases.
Oregon has had five straight weeks of case growth, reaching nearly 9,000 total confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday. So far, 209 deaths in Oregon from COVID-19 have been reported.
Gov. Kate Brown speaks during the AP Legislative Preview Day at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on Jan. 17, 2020. The 2020 Oregon legislative session begins February 3. (Photo: STATESMAN JOURNAL FILE)
“This virus threatens us all, regardless of our job title. Oregonians are wearing face coverings to protect ourselves, our families and our community,” Brown said after footage of the trooper was made public Thursday. “If you want your favorite restaurants and shops to stay open, wear a face covering and practice physical distancing to reduce the spread of the disease.”
She said it was inexcusable and “absolutely unacceptable” for the troopers to disregard her face covering requirements and to ignore the request from the employee to follow the rule.
Opinion: Face masks work. They need to be mandatory.
“Let me crystal clear: No one is above the law,” she said. “Superintendent Hampton and I expect the Oregon State Police to lead by example.”
Hampton said that “not only are police officers expected to comply with the Governor’s emergency declaration orders, I expect them to set the example for Oregon’s residents as we strive to fight this invisible enemy — the coronavirus.”
“This conduct is embarrassing and indefensible,” he said, “especially in the wake of thousands of Oregonians taking to the streets each day to rightfully demand police accountability.”
Hampton said the troopers’ conduct was being immediately addressed.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Follow Whitney Woodworth Twitter @wmwoodworth
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