Wear that Face Mask! Deputies Ramping Up Enforcement and Issuing More Tickets

Be sure to put that face mask on when going out in public. Failure to wear that mask in public is more likely to bring you a $250 ticket now.

After more than six months of primarily issuing warnings with an occasional ticket for failure to wear a mask, sheriff’s deputies with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station are ramping up enforcement and will be ticketing more aggressively.

“We certainly don’t want to be citing everybody, but if you don’t wear a mask, you’re going to get a citation,” said Lt. William Moulder during Monday night’s Public Safety Commission meeting.

When deputies see people without a mask, they will offer them a mask and if they refuse to put it on immediately, then they will receive a ticket. Previously, deputies would merely have issued a warning in such situations.

The move to stop issuing warnings came at the direction of the West Hollywood City Council. The Council felt the move was necessary since more contagious strains of the coronavirus are spreading, plus people have had nine months to learn that wearing a mask is the best protection against the coronavirus, at least until they get vaccinated.

The Council first passed the mask mandate with the $250 fine in the summer, but deputies took an educational approach of offering people a mask first. If they refused the mask, they got a warning citation. If they got more aggressive or belligerent after the warning, they then received a ticket.

“People had to work really hard to get a ticket for not wearing a mask,” said City Manager Paul Arevalo during the Feb. 1 Council meeting.

According to Moulder, as of last week, deputies had issued 128 tickets since the mask mandate went into effect in the summer.   

Unfortunately, there are no records of how many warning citations have been issued, something that concerned the Council since that means there is no way of knowing who has gotten multiple warnings.

Moulder reported deputies issue more tickets in the parks than on the streets, especially in Plummer Park.

Some will argue that it is not necessary to wear a mask outside since the chances of spreading the virus outdoors are greatly reduced.

However, public safety director Kristin Cook explained that people in the parks, especially Plummer Park, aren’t socially distancing. “They’re sitting beside each other on benches and tables, no distancing. And they’re not wearing masks,” said Cook.  

The Council briefly discussed having Block by Block security ambassadors also issue tickets for not wearing masks. However, Arevalo explained that Block by Block employees are not certified to give out tickets.

Further, Arevalo explained it is often necessary to have personnel trained in de-escalation techniques to handle the situation since the people not wearing masks sometime become aggressive and confrontational when approached.  

“Having a professionally trained deputy to administer the citation is the best way to handle it,” said Arevalo.

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