Statement From Boone County, Harrison Law Enforcement in Regards to Arkansas Face Mask Order

by: Scott McCaulley

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s order regarding Face Coverings and Masks goes into effect Statewide today. Hutchinson issued the order last week in answer to the growing number of cases in the state.

On Sunday, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and Harrison Police Department put out a Joint Statement in regards to their enforcement of this order.

The joint statement issued by Sheriff Tim Roberson and Police Chief Chris Graddy sites that the Executive Order says that no one will be detained for violating the order hence no arrests or citations will be issued. However, the statement goes on to say that businesses do have the right to require masks and entry can be denied those who don’t have a mask to wear. It also goes on to state that harassment of individuals for wearing or not wearing a mask could result in citations in accordance with several laws.

Several governmental facilities in the region already require Face Coverings entering their facilities while several cities, including Berryville last week, have passed a Face Mask Ordinance in line with the Arkansas Department of Health Guidelines.

The complete statement is below:

Boone County Sheriff and Harrison Police Department media release regarding Governor Hutchinson’s Emergency Order 20-43 (Face masks).

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office and the Harrison Police Department will always give a response to every call received. However, each call is based on the merit of circumstances. E.O. 20-43 plainly states in Section 3-c that no individual will be detained for violating this order. If the police do not have the authority to detain, we do not have the authority to arrest or cite an individual.

Please let us remind everyone that each business or entity has the right to require a face mask compliance either by state mandate or by choice. If a business requires a face mask you cannot enter without one. The person at the door requiring you to wear a face mask is doing so to comply with either state health regulations or the request of the owner. It is not their fault that this upsets you. Please be respectful to those tasks with that duty.

We have also had incidents where people would approach others for not wearing a face mask and confront them. Please do not engage in that type of activity. There are several exemptions for not wearing a face mask stated in the order and that person may be fully complying. If you are not a law enforcement officer, you do not have the right to engage that person. If you chose not to follow these guidelines, we would like to make you aware of three state statutes you could be violating.

Arkansas State Statute 5-39-203 Criminal Trespass

Arkansas State Statute 5-71-207 Disorderly Conduct

Arkansas State Statute 5-71-207 Harassment

Criminal Trespass:

(a) A person commits criminal trespass if he or she purposely enters or remains unlawfully in or upon:

(1) A vehicle of another person; or

(2) The premises owned or leased by another person.

Disorderly Conduct: 

(a) A person commits the offense of disorderly conduct if, with the purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm or recklessly creating a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, he or she:

(1) Engages in fighting or in violent, threatening, or tumultuous behavior;

(2) Makes unreasonable or excessive noise;

(3) In a public place, uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture, in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response;

(4) Disrupts or disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons;

(5) Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic;

(6) Congregates with two (2) or more other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order to disperse of a law enforcement officer or other person engaged in enforcing or executing the law;

(7) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition;

(8) In a public place, mars, defiles, desecrates, or otherwise damages a patriotic or religious symbol that is an object of respect by the public or a substantial segment of the public; or

(9) In a public place, exposes his or her private parts.

(b) Disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor.

Harassment:

(a) A person commits the offense of harassment if, with purpose to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, without good cause, he or she:

(1) Strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches a person, subjects that person to offensive physical contact or attempts or threatens to do so;

(2) In a public place, directs obscene language or makes an obscene gesture to or at another person in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response;

(3) Follows a person in or about a public place;

(4) In a public place repeatedly insults, taunts, or challenges another person in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response;

(5) Engages in conduct or repeatedly commits an act that alarms or seriously annoys another person and that serves no legitimate purpose; or

(6) Places a person under surveillance by remaining present outside that person’s school, place of employment, vehicle, other place occupied by that person, or residence, other than the residence of the defendant, for no purpose other than to harass, alarm, or annoy.

(b) Harassment is a Class A misdemeanor.

It would be great if we did not have to make arrests for any of these actions. However, we will ensure that everyone in our community is protected to the best of our ability. Our goal is to work through these trying times and stop the spread of this virus that can be fatal to some in our community. We encourage you to follow the Governors Executive Order and wear a mask or stay a safe distance away from each other.

Thank you for your continued support.

Boone County Sheriff Tim Roberson Harrison Police Chief Chris Graddy

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