A Montpelier Village Councilwoman voiced support to mandate local police officers wear masks after a second citizen spoke up Monday.
At their last meeting of 2020, council heard from Bob Dilworth, who said a local officer wasn’t wearing a mask after entering the house of his friend, who had fallen.
On Monday evening, Al Word, former Williams County sheriff and commissioner, also called on the council to mandate masks during the council’s Zoom meeting.
Councilwoman Melissa Ewers echoed his sentiments.
“We need to do more than the minimum,” she said. “There are, obviously, other departments in Wauseon and other areas that are wearing masks. I hope our department is now doing so and I think we should require it.”
If nothing else, Ewers hoped if officers go into a home and the resident requests they wear a mask, that they have one on hand and respect the resident’s wishes.
“It is a serious issue and they need to follow the science, especially if they are going into places and show they are supportive of the science and supporting our residents,” she said.
Village Manager Jason Rockey said he broached the subject with the department and has personally observed them wearing masks, but said no direct order has been issued.
Word said he observed Chief Dan McGee and another officer walk into a restaurant several weeks ago without masks on, adding it didn’t “look good” for officers to not wear a mask.
As a member of the Wauseon Police Department, he has a standing order to wear a mask, as do EMTs.
“If they’re in the middle of a gunfight, that’s one thing, but going into a restaurant, I don’t think that looks too good,” Word said. “And, from the council standpoint, if you lose two or three or four officers because they’re off because of COVID, there’s going to be a problem.”
He called on the council to “step up to the plate” and require a mask for their safety and the safety of others.
Although it’s not mandatory, Mayor Steve Yagelski said he has been keeping an eye out to see if officers are wearing masks and encouraged Word to call him or Rockey if he observes more officers not wearing masks.
In other action, council:
• Voted Chris Kannel as council president and approved committee assignments.
• Approved the Jefferson Township fire protection contract for $33,445.10.
• Approved the advertisement of bids for the 2021 asphalt program.
• Amended appropriations to include carryover expenses and revenues from incomplete 2020 projects.
• Approved a $55,990 change order with Vernon Nagel for the Randolph Street pump station. Rockey said they needed to “clear a little wider path” than they expected for the sewer line.
• Had the first reading for a right-of-way vacation on Linden Street. There are no utilities running underneath the lot and someone purchased the property with the intent of building a house there.
• Rockey said there will be another COVID-19 pop-up testing event on Jan. 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gillette Building on the Williams County Fairgrounds.