The ACLU wrote a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham asking them to require police officers to wear masks in public.
“Currently, MPD essentially has a mask optional policy, where officers are encouraged but not required to wear masks while they’re on duty,” ACLU D.C. Policy Director Nassim Moshiree said.
The ACLU said there have been several reports of police officers not wearing masks in places such as Black Lives Matter Plaza and at demonstrations against police brutality and racism.
“Protests have led to a lot of close encounters between law enforcement and large members of the public, and in many instances officers have been documented not wearing protective masks,” Moshiree said.
Phase two guidelines require people to maintain 6 feet of distance and wear a face covering when around others who aren’t in the same household.
“Our message to both the mayor and the police chief is that there is just no safe way for MPD to be operating in the field short of requiring all officers to be wearing masks at all times,” Moshiree said.
Newsham said he encourages officers to wear masks. Although it is not mandatory, he said people should notify the officer’s supervisor if they see them not wearing personal protective equipment.
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The chief said he takes mask wearing seriously.
The department lost 53-year-old Senior Officer Keith Williams to COVID-19 last month.
News4 called aides to Bowser for a response to the letter and is waiting to hear back.