By Ray King

Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant on Wednesday discussed the executive order from Governor Asa Hutchinson mandating the use of face coverings when social distancing is not possible.

During a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Sergeant said if an officer is called to a business because of a dispute between a customer and business employee about wearing a face mask, the officer will encourage the customer to wear a mask or leave the business.

If the customer leaves, the officer will notify dispatch that the customer received a verbal warning and there will be no further action taken.

If the customer refuses to leave and refuses to wear a mask, they will be issued a citation for criminal trespass and escorted off the premises.

Sergeant was also asked by Committee Chairman Win Trafford about the decision to buy new police cars from an out-of-town dealer rather than a local dealer. He said that normally, when the department buys vehicles, they do it from a local dealer as long as the local dealer can match the state contract price and can get the needed vehicles.

In this case, Sergeant said that because of a shortage of police type vehicles, the local dealers could not get the vehicles while Red River Dodge, who has a state contract was able to. He said two of the eight Dodge Durango patrol vehicles the city has ordered are in and the remainder will be at the dealer by the end of the month.

In response to a question from Council Member Joni Alexander, Sergeant said that there are no local dealers who have a state contract to sell vehicles.

He also told Council Member Ivan Whitfield that the money to outfit the new vehicles with sirens, radios, lights, etc., has already been set aside.