Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams is warning residents that just because the SPD has been more focused on educating the public about the mask ordinance than giving citations, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be giving them out.
Williams was very blunt when asked by a reporter what he would say to residents who think the police won’t be “putting teeth behind the ordinance.”
“Don’t think that,” Williams said. “We issue a lot of warnings for other things too. We wrote 24,000 traffic tickets last year, and issued 13,000 warnings. This kind of fits into that same realm.”
“I think we took a little longer time to educate and to make sure people really understood because there was a difference of opinion,” Williams continued. “The officers are willing and ready to do that. With the things that happened last weekend and what Clay mentioned about college students coming back to town, we’re going to make sure first that businesses are complying, then individuals which I think is our bigger issue. I don’t anticipate any bar owners but I believe some individuals will be getting some citations here in the near future.”
Williams noted during the press conference that his department conducted 12 surprise “audits” of downtown establishments last weekend and only two of them were out of compliance by having more than 50 percent capacity.
The bigger issue to Williams were people who are standing in lines outside bars and even box stores who are not social distancing. He said that officers will be addressing people who are in lines that are not masked and distancing to educate them about the city ordiance.