Are Police Required to Wear Masks in Minnesota During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Are Police Required to Wear Masks in Minnesota during the COVID-19 Pandemic (1)

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our everyday lives. One of the most notable ways was the introduction of mask mandates across the country. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz lifted the state’s mask requirements as of May 28 2021, but issues remain. Previously, the state urged all residents to wear a face covering to stop the spread of the deadly and highly contagious coronavirus. Police officers were conducting their duties as usual throughout the pandemic, leading many to wonder if the police are required to wear masks. 

If police officers arrest you for a crime during the coronavirus pandemic, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Knutson + Casey. Criminal charges can profoundly impact your life, and most charges remain on your record permanently. No matter the charge, it is critical that you bring your case to an experienced defense attorney. 

Do Police Officers Have to Wear Face Masks During COVID-19?

The answer is: It depends. For the most part, the state exempted police officers and other first responders are exempt from the mask mandate, in situations where a face-covering could interfere with their job performance. Jim Mortenson, a director for a Minnesota police union, says that law enforcement should use reason when wearing a mask. For example, Mortenson says that if a police officer comes across someone who starts shooting at them, the last thing the officer should think about is wearing a mask. In that situation, it would be reasonable for an officer to not to wear a mask. 

Zumbrota Police Chief Patrick Callahan says that his officers wear face masks indoors and when transporting someone to jail. However, they do not have to wear face coverings when conducting a traffic stop since it might inhibit their ability to investigate the scene. Similarly, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradono says that officers are wearing masks on most calls, as long as wearing one does not interfere with their duties. 

Ultimately, wearing masks for police officers has been left to the discretion of the police chief or police union. Although most stations required their officers to wear a face-covering whenever possible, now that Minnesota lifted its mask mandate, police officers may no longer be required to wear a face covering 

How Should I Interact with Police Officers During COVID-19?  

While COVID-19 cases are decreasing in the state, there is still a risk of infection when interacting with others. If an officer pulls you over, follow a few basic safety precautions. 

  • Wear a face covering, even if you have been vaccinated.
  • Maintain a safe distance from an officer if they ask you to exit the vehicle.
  • Sanitize items the cop touched after the stop, such as your driver’s license and insurance information. 
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol. 
  • Drive with your windows down for a few minutes to ventilate your vehicle. 

While these guidelines are specifically for traffic stops, you can still use them during an encounter with a police officer during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Speak to a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in Minnesota Today 

If police officers arrest you or someone you know during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact the attorneys at Knutson + Casey. Our Mankato criminal defense attorneys have the skills and experience needed to handle various criminal cases, such as criminal assault, drug crimes, and driving under the influence. 

Since 1992, we have been serving the Minnesota community, and we understand the ins and outs of criminal law. We can develop a strong defense strategy to protect you throughout the criminal process. While we cannot process a dismissal, we will exhaust our resources to fight aggressively for your rights. To schedule a free consultation, call (507) 344-8888 or complete our contact form