Why Won't Cops Wear Masks?

Now that we’re six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us think of wearing a mask in the same vein as wallets or cell phones or keys: as a necessity anytime you go out. One group, however, does not appear to view masks in the same way: police officers, many of whom are tasked with enforcing social distancing rules.

On her Instagram story on Wednesday night, the model Bella Hadid posted a photo of herself giving the middle finger to three New York Police Department officers standing outside City Hall, none of whom were wearing masks. “Hi @NYPD masks are for all of our safety, not just urs,” she wrote in the caption.

The same day, the Twitter account @NYPDMaskWatch, which crowd-sources reports of cops who refuse to wear masks, tweeted a video of an NYPD officer named Patrick Craig refusing to wear a mask at a Brooklyn deli where face coverings were required, which subsequently went viral. Craig reportedly has a number of complaints on his disciplinary record, including four regarding use of force. (The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Such viral posts are far from isolated incidents. For the past few months, many NYPD officers have garnered intense criticism for not wearing masks in public, particularly at Black Lives Matter protests, in spite of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pleas for officers to wear masks, and numerous COVID-19-related deaths on the police force. Although official NYPD policy is that officers should wear face coverings, in the past it has been dismissive of critiques of its officers foregoing masks. “With everything New York City has been through in the past two weeks and everything we are working toward together, we can put our energy to a better use,” Sgt. Jessica McRorie said in a statement. 



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