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‘We’re expecting officers to generally wear masks,’ Madison Police chief says

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Courtesy Mallory Saurer
A Madison police officer is recorded in close contact without a mask

MADISON (WKOW) - Acting Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl tells 27 News he expects patrol officers to wear masks once they step out of their squad cars, as the department investigates an officer's failure to wear a mask during a close contact with someone videotaping a police stop.

"We're expecting officers to generally wear masks," Wahl says. When a 27 News reporter asked Wahl whether that applies to an officer the moment an officer exists a squad car, Wahl said it did. "Generally, that's the expectation," Wahl said.

Wahl says there are circumstances when immediately donning a mask may not be possible for an officer on patrol, but did not cite the type of call where such deviation for the mask directive might take place.

Earlier this week, Madison Police announced the officer who encountered the person recording video was under internal investigation. But police officials also said patrol officers needed to wear maskswhen they expected to be in close contact with the public.

The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) recommends masks be worn in public to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In the encounter this week between the officer and the bystander, cell phone video shows the officer coming nearly nose-to-nose with the person, and the bystander complaining the officer had no mask.

The video also shows a separate, masked officer speaking to the subject of the police stop.

The person who was stopped apparently was allowed to leave without any police sanction.

In the video, the unmasked officer refers to the police stop as part of an investigation into someone allegedly exposing themselves in public.

Wahl declined comment on the internal investigation into the officer.

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Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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