Why Are So Many N.Y.P.D. Officers Refusing to Wear Masks at Protests?

June 12, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified June 15, 2020

An article by The New York Times examines why cops are notably not wearing face masks amid public protests.

On any given day, on any corner, groups of officers are not wearing masks. Others wear them below their chin. With masks becoming as ingrained as shirts and shoes in the vast majority of New Yorkers’ wardrobes, their widespread absence on the police is striking — and to a mayor and governor still fighting the coronavirus pandemic, troubling.

“Police officers should be wearing masks,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said during a news conference in Manhattan on Monday. Likewise, Mayor Bill de Blasio, on his call-in appearance on WNYC on Friday, was asked why officers were unmasked.

”I’m frustrated by it, too,” he said. “The policy is police officers are supposed to wear face coverings in public, period.”

While police officers may forgo mask-wearing for any number of reasons, from peer pressure within ranks that are loath to change to a desire to more easily communicate, the images have fueled a perception of the police as arrogant and dismissive of protesters’ health — perhaps even at the peril of their own.

And while several officers have conspicuously knelt down with or hugged people at rallies, the widespread failure to use masks is creating a more standoffish look, one that protesters say suggests that the police operate above the rules — one of the very beliefs motivating the nationwide movement.

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