WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)— Since the governor-issued an order mandating Texans to wear a mask in public areas, local law enforcement said the language of the ordinance does not give them room to enforce this and that still has not changed.
“As a law enforcement agency we cannot detain someone solely on the purpose of not wearing a mask,” Wichita Falls Police Department Public Information Officer Jeff Hughes said.
Hughes with the Wichita Falls Police Department said since Governor Greg Abbott’s order restricts them from detaining anyone who does not wear a mask here is not much they can do to enforce the ordinance.
“We’re not out there just looking for people who are not wearing masks, they would have to be committing some other type of offense for that to even come into play,” Hughes said.
Hughes said if a business has a mask requirement and there are violators then authorities can be called in but the person would be charged for some type of criminal trespassing and not necessarily fined.
Wichita County Sheriff David Duke said his office has not been issuing fines.
“We won’t be writing tickets, we haven’t written any tickets,” Duke said. “Now we have done some educational moments with people, to let them know it’d be best if you do that to protect your family, your kids, your neighbors, whoever you’re around.”
And it’s quite similar in Lawton, there though, first-time violators will receive a verbal or written warning but upon a second offense, a resident can receive a citation of up to $100.
Lawton Police Department’s Public Information Officer Sergeant Elijah Garcia said they handle each case on a call by call basis.
“If a business calls us and if they say we have somebody that isn’t wearing a mask, an officer if manpower permitting, will respond and ask the person to put their mask on and we haven’t seen any issues here
Officials continue to urge Texomans to do their part to slow the spread of the virus.