CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton is speaking out after troopers were seen at a Corvallis coffee shop not wearing masks.
An article from The Oregonian/OregonLive showing video of the incident has sparked controversy amid a recent statewide mask requirement from Gov. Kate Brown.
A manager at Allan’s Coffee & Tea confirmed the incident to KEZI 9 News. The company issued a statement, which read in part, "We did not expect that within the first hour of the state mandate four uniformed State Police Officers would defy the orders, enter our café without wearing a face mask and refuse requests to wear one." Read their full statement at the bottom of the article.
Hampton wrote in a Facebook post that troopers are not above the law, and the “embarrassing and indefensible” conduct of those involved is being addressed.
OSP confirmed one of the troopers has been placed on administrative leave.
“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,” Hampton wrote.
He said he expects officers to comply with the governor’s emergency declarations to set an example for Oregonians “as we strive to fight this invisible enemy – the coronavirus.”
Members of the community are saying the incident highlights a gross double standard.
"I would feel awfully bad if they just got a paid vacation, if they got paid vacation as a result of acting in such a way," said Corvallis resident Christopher Woodruff. "When we express ourselves in such a manner, we are treated much differently than they are."
Others are agreeing, saying this sort of attitude trickles down.
"Unfortunately at the national level our President refuses to wear a mask and he's being sort of wishy washy about it right now and he's making political statements about it," said Diana Allen. "I don't see it as political -- I see it as a public health issue and keeping myself healthy and my friends and neighbors healthy."
Hampton apologized to the employees and to the community and took responsibility for the troopers’ actions.
“I hope my apology is accepted and the swift actions of my agency provide evidence of our commitment to accountability,” he said.
Stay with KEZI 9 News for more.