PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon State Trooper has been put on paid administrative leave after a coffee shop worker complained that he didn’t wear a mask when entering the establishment as required under a statewide order by the governor designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the assistant manager of Allan’s Coffee & Tea in Corvallis said the trooper on Wednesday told him that Democratic Gov. Kate Brown had no authority to “take our civil liberties” and then uttered a vulgarity directed toward the governor.
The coffee shop reported the incident to local police.
Capt. Timothy Fox, a spokesman for the state police, said the agency is conducting an internal investigation. Fox did not name the trooper.
It is “early in the investigation, but if found to be true, we are thoroughly disappointed and expect our troopers to follow the governor’s executive orders and be examples in the community,” Fox said in a statement.
I am ultimately responsible for all actions of OSP Troopers & should rightfully be accountable for their conduct. I hope my apology is accepted & the swift actions of my agency provide evidence of our commitment to accountability.-Superintendent Travis Hampton, Superintendent
— Oregon State Police (@ORStatePolice) July 2, 2020
Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said on Twitter Thursday that the conduct described in the newspaper article was “embarrassing and indefensible.”
“Let me be clear, Oregon State Police Troopers are not above the law and this conduct is being immediately addressed,” Hampton wrote. “As the leader of the Oregon State Police, I would like to offer my apology to the coffee shop employees and the community.”
Brown’s order requiring people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces started Wednesday as the state has seen a spike in coronavirus cases.
Oregon had a record 281 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday, but officials predict that the increase may become much steeper during the next month – potentially reaching 900 new cases per day.
Oregon has had five straight weeks of case growth, reaching nearly 9,000 total confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday.
Violating Brown’s face mask order could be a misdemeanor, but the Democrat has said she didn’t expect police to write tickets.