Oregon State Trooper Put on Leave After Allegedly Refusing to Wear Mask in Coffee Shop
“Let me be clear, Oregon State Police Troopers are not above the law and this conduct is being immediately addressed," Superintendent Travis Hampton wrote in a statement
An Oregon State Trooper has been put on administrative leave after allegedly refusing to comply with the state’s mandate requiring all residents to wear face masks in public.
On Wednesday, the day the mandate went into effect, four state troopers entered a local coffee shop without wearing protective face coverings, Allan’s Coffee and Tea owners Robert and Kathryn Morgan told CNN in a statement. Footage of the incident was shared with multiple news outlets.
According to the owners, after being asked to put on a mask, one officer allegedly "used profanity to disparage the Governor and express his political opinion that the Governor could not infringe on his civil liberties and that businesses need not worry about complying with the order because law enforcement would not be enforcing the order."
“He said, ‘F--- Kate Brown,’” store manager Travis Boss alleged to The Oregonian in a statement, adding that shortly after the first officer entered, three additional officers came in and also allegedly refused requests to put on masks.
"We were aware of the divisive climate during this time and the fact that face coverings have become a politicized issue so we expected that our employees may receive some backlash from customers regarding this new policy," the owners told CNN in a statement. "However, we did not expect that within the first hour of the state mandate four uniformed State Police Officers would defy the orders, enter our cafe without wearing a face mask and refuse requests to wear one."
Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton went on to publicly apologize for the incident on social media. The troopers have not been publicly named.
“Not only are police officers expected to comply with the Governor’s emergency declaration orders, I expect them to set the example for Oregon’s residents,” he wrote in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, which was also posted on the Oregon State Police’s official Twitter account.
"This conduct is embarrassing and indefensible, especially in the wake of thousands of Oregonians taking to the streets each day to rightfully demand police accountability. Like any police misconduct, the actions of a few bring discredit to the scores of dedicated officers that do not believe they are above the law they are sworn to uphold," he continued. “Let me be clear, Oregon State Police Troopers are not above the law and this conduct is being immediately addressed."
A police spokesman has confirmed to PEOPLE that an officer has been put on administrative leave and that the incident is under investigation.
Gov. Brown has also spoken out against the officers.
“It is inexcusable that a few Oregon State Troopers disregarded my face covering requirement yesterday & ignored a request from a fellow Oregonian to follow the rule. Oregon State Police Superintendent Hampton & I agree their actions and behaviors were absolutely unacceptable,” the governor wrote in a statement.
“Let me crystal clear: No one is above the law. Superintendent Hampton and I expect the Oregon State Police to lead by example. This virus threatens us all, regardless of our job title. Oregonians are wearing face coverings to protect ourselves, our families and our community,” she added
Brown went on to warn that if residents wanted their “favorite restaurants and shops to stay open,” they needed to comply with wearing protective coverings and practicing social distancing.
“All of us must take these simple steps to slow the spread of this deadly virus,” she wrote. “We’re all in this together.”
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Gov. Brown went on to meet with the officers, posting a photo of their meeting on Friday.
"In the world of social media, it’s easy to condemn someone when they make a mistake and keep scrolling by. But you can judge a person’s character by whether they own up and make things right," she wrote, alongside a photograph, in which all present wore masks.
"This week several Oregon State Police officers made headlines when they ignored my face covering requirement. I’m focused on saving lives, not firing people for making a single mistake. So today I invited three of them to sit down with me at Mahonia," she continued. "We talked about kids, our families, and the importance of setting a good example. They took responsibility and expressed real regret for their actions. And they pledged to do better."
Oregon is one of several states that is seeing record numbers of coronavirus cases in July.
On Thursday, the state reported a record-breaking 375 new cases, which represented the second consecutive day the state recorded its highest number of cases. On Wednesday, Oregon reported 281 new confirmed cases.
In light of the coronavirus surge, the state’s medical director for communicable diseases has said residents should “absolutely” cancel any plans they have for any 4th of July gatherings or celebrations, The Oregonian reported.
As of Friday, there have been 9,300 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state and 211 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
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