Calls about masks could overwhelm Dothan Police Department

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Governor Kay Ivey’s mask mandate has officially been in effect for over 24 hours. The mandate began Thursday night at five and will be in effect until July 31st.

Lt. Scott Owens of the Dothan police department says DPD is aware of the order and will be enforcing it in ways other than just citations.

“For the most part, we are going to enforce that order through education rather than enforcement, you know we really don’t want to have to go out and write anybody citations for that kind of stuff. We are putting this on mainly local businesses if you have somebody that is coming into your business and they are required to wear a mask and they don’t they can call us and we can come out and try to resolve the issue peacefully,” Owens said.

Owens says they highly recommend that individual business owners who have the ability to say what happens in the store that they own and run, should really enforce the mask mandate, more than law enforcement.

“Law enforcement typically we are not going to be out there looking for individuals riding down the road without a mask or going into an establishment and this person doesn’t have a mask and we’re pulling, that’s not what we are going to be doing,” Owens explained.

DPD says with the population of Dothan growing, the number of calls they receive has also increased. With that being said, adding 20-30 calls about masks would overwhelm the manpower they have. But if they do have to enforce the mask mandate there will be consequences.

“The fine calls for up to $500 or imprisonment, you can actually serve time in jail for that,” Owens explained. “But that’s largely up to a judge if the citation is written to adjudicate that case. So, what a judge would do, we don’t know.”

While DPD is asking businesses and the city of Dothan to handle imposing the mask mandate themselves rather than relying on the police, they still do not want the public to take matters into their own hands when it comes to regulating. They should address the store’s management team and let them handle it. If the managers need assistance with a guest, they can call the police at which point they will take over the case.

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