Police address concerns over tickets given for mask-wearing infringements

Police PRO Inspector Frankie Thomas (file photo)
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By Carlena Knight

In light of allegations police are abusing their powers when issuing tickets to unmasked individuals, the force’s spokesman Inspector Frankie Thomas is seeking to allay concerns.

Previously, if caught not wearing a mask in a public place, individuals were brought before court and fined, but recent changes have empowered police to issue $500 tickets on the spot.

During an interview with Observer media yesterday, Inspector Thomas sought to address the grey areas pertaining to how officers interpret and carry out the laws.

He reassured the public that the police are well versed in the matter.

“Our members are thoroughly briefed on the protocols and how to effectively carry out their functions,” the police PRO said, continuing, “not saying they may not have one or two concerns of discretion, but not enough to substantiate those allegations.”

His comments were in response to a situation over the weekend where police officers allegedly issued a $500 ticket to a resident who was in their front yard at the time for failure to wear a mask. There have been other claims that law enforcement officials are issuing tickets to drivers travelling alone in their private vehicles.

The allegations have fuelled heated discussions on social media and directed public scrutiny to the interpretation — or lack thereof — of the new regulation by police regarding the health protocol laws that were recently implemented to reduce Covid-19 infections.

Many individuals shared their displeasure on the matter on Facebook and even accused the officers of abusing their powers.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne also added his voice to the discussion on the social media site, and shared his disbelief at the alleged actions of the police.

“I find it astonishing that individuals could be ticketed in their vehicles while driving alone and at home. The regulations cover the wearing of masks in public, not in the privacy of one’s home or yard,” PM Browne said.

“If what you are saying is true, there is a misinterpretation and application of the law,” he added.

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