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Here's how police are responding to complaints about face mask violations

Hendersonville police have investigated a handful of complaints and issued no citations since the City Council directed city personnel to enforce a statewide order to wear face masks in many public settings.

After a lengthy and at times heated debate over enforcement at its regular meeting on July 2, City Manager John Connet attempted to articulate a "consensus" that "a majority of the council would like for the police department to enforce executive order 147 when businesses are blatantly and aggressively avoiding enforcing executive order 147.”

As of Monday, police dispatchers had received five calls for service, said Melissa Justus, administrative assistant to Chief Herbert Blake. One concerned an incident in Laurel Park, which has its own police force. Responding to a public records request from the Hendersonville Lightning, the department summarized the reports. Here are details of the complaints contained in the reports, according to Justus:

  • A manager at Petco called about a customer who would not wear a face covering and would not leave the pet supply store. The man left before officers arrived.
  • Someone called about noncompliance at Brian Easler Toyota. The caller was “concerned about the business not wearing masks,” Justus said. “We went out there and we checked on the scene and few minutes later we cleared. The report doesn’t show it resolved.”
  • Someone called in reference to Cracker Barrel not enforcing the mask law. A lieutenant called the restaurant manager and explained with the requirements of the order.
  • A caller said that people were not wearing masks at White Duck Tacos. An officer “talked to manager and went over the order with that person.”

“In reading these, it doesn’t look like there were any citations,” Justus said. “It looks like they were solved without us having to do that.” The police department has assigned a specific code for calls about executive order compliance so it can easily track them, she added.

Chief Hubert Blake that Thursday dispatchers had fielded three more calls since Monday.

"One caller was upset that Walmart asked her to put a mask on," he said. "Another said a local busines was not enforcing their order to wear a mask and a third person called to say her friend went into a local animal clinic and her friend said people were not wearing masks."

Walmart on Wednesday joined many other national retailers and announced that it would require customers to wear masks. City police would not intervene to stop that.

"That's certainly a company decision and we don't want be involved," Blake said.

"To my knowledge, no one has been issed a citation," he said. "We're not going to issue people (individually). The order says law enforcement will not cite people. When we get the calls on businesses, the officer will deal with those on an individual basis." If the business repeatedly refuses to comply "some could be issued a citaiton."