Utah’s mask mandate stretches to men and women in blue, but this week's video posted on Instagram showed Ogden officers mask-less as they restrained a suspect on the street.
Ogden Police chief Randy Watt said the man had trespassed, resisted a female officer’s commands, then went out of control inside a police car. More officers were called, the man was taken out of the car, and put into a soft “wrap” — and loaded back into the vehicle — while at least one person heckled the police with F-bombs and more.
“I’m proud of the way they handled it, and the restraint that they used,” said Watt. “There were probably some opportunities where they may have been able to call a time out, and put a mask on, but I’m not all that concerned.“
Watt directed officers in Ogden to wear masks, but in some circumstances, said the coverings can hinder police work.
“So I’ll leave that decision about when to specifically wear the mask to the officers in the field,” he said. “I don’t try to make the rules from the spectator box.“
“We try to make sure that we are meeting both our chiefs’ requests, and the mandate of the governor,” said Ryan Carver, an officer in the Salt Lake Valley, and a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police. “Even the mask has its failings.“
He said he recently ran for blocks — with a mask on — to catch a man who dashed on foot from a stolen car.
“Getting over a fence, I had it actually pull off my face once,” said Carver.
“And it was tough to breathe?“ 2News asked.
“Yes it was,” he replied, saying he wasn’t getting the oxygen he thought he needed.
Carver said there are times when a mask is not the top public safety concern for police.
When you roll up in your car in a situation that’s active, especially if it’s a violent situation,” he said, “you just don’t have time to worry about a mask.”