NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Metro Nashville Police say enforcement of the mask mandate will look different this coming weekend.
“This Friday and Saturday will be very clear to anyone who’s in the downtown area that the police are out, the police are enforcing, and as needed, as necessary, we will issue citations. And if we have people who aren’t cooperative or there’s other situations involved, we’ll make an arrest if we have to,” says Captain David Leavitt.
A man was reportedly arrested in Nashville on Thursday for not wearing a face covering even after police officers told him to on two separate occasions. However, later in the day, Metro Police retired the charges against him.
MNPD says they plan to have more officers downtown, focused on Lower Broadway, for the initiative.
"It’s time to take it to another level with more enforcement through citations if we’re not getting compliance," said Deputy Chief Damian Huggins.
During a Metro Council Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon, police officers were asked why citations were not written for anyone not wearing a mask.
“Although we haven’t given any citations or any citations haven’t been written, except to transpotainment, several folks have gone to jail for non-compliance and their level of intoxication," Capt. Leavitt said. "They bypassed a citation and went to jail.”
The officers also say because of the different role the mask mandate presents for officers, who are dealing with new people walking by each day, makes it even harder to enforce the mask mandate.
"This is a very different role for them and due to the current climate around the country with police, they’re kind of in a weird position right now," Leavitt said. "But I want to make it clear to everyone on the meeting that it has been made abundantly clear to them that unless someone has a legitimate exception to the mask ordinance, that [officers] are to issue citations.”
Thirty officers will be on Lower Broadway, divided into three teams of eight.
The 24 officers will will be on foot, patrolling Broadway from 3:30 p.m. to midnight.
The remaining six officers will be on ATVs conducting mobile enforcement; this includes stopping and citing any transpotainment vehicles still operating.
Police expect staff from the Metro Health Department, Transportation Licensing Commission, Beer Board and the Fire Marshall's Office to join them on Broadway Friday and Saturday. The Davidson County Sheriff's Office will base its mobile booking vehicle in Riverfront Park on both nights.
Clear signage on Broadway is also still reminding people that wearing a mask is part of the law.
People who violate this order could receive a Metropolitan Government citation for adjudication in Environmental Court, or a State of Tennessee criminal misdemeanor citation. Under state law, violation of Metro Health's mask order in a Class C misdemeanor.