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How One Southern California City Is Enforcing a Mask Mandate

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Posted: Aug 10, 2020 7:30 AM
How One Southern California City Is Enforcing a Mask Mandate

Source: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Cities, counties, and even some states have decided to mandate residents to wear masks. The goal is to keep the Wuhan coronavirus from spreading. The problem, however, is enforcement. Most law enforcement agencies don't have the bandwidth to respond to calls about someone not wearing a mask. There's also the issue of medical exemptions. Businesses and officers would be violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referring to as HIPPA.

To get around this issue, Hermosa Beach decided to hire private security to enforce mask wearing in public spaces. They will be working hand-in-hand with the Hermosa Beach Police Department. This weekend was a pilot run to see how helpful the security officials are and how many will be needed in the future, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

According to Police Chief Paul LeBaron, the security guards – even though they are not sworn officers – will enforce the mask mandate while freeing up police officers to respond to actual crimes 

“The reality is that police not only in Hermosa Beach but throughout Southern California are dealing with public safety every single moment of every single day,” LeBaron said. “So trying to add the enforcement of social distancing and face masks makes it very difficult for our officers to be effective in anything they’re doing.”

When Hermosa Beach closed their beaches to all earlier in the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the police department also contracted with a private security firm to help enforce the mandate. 

"This is at the expense of the city obviously. We don’t do it lightly,” Mayor Mary Campbell said. “We’ve taken a huge hit, as every city has, as every business has, virtually, around budget. But we’re also currently still in the situation, especially in L.A. County, where COVID-19 remains a very big concern and a threat to public health.”

Other areas in Los Angeles County – including Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Glendale, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica and West Hollywood – have made similar moves, contracting private security firms to enforce mask mandates.