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Masks and other safety measures create unintended hindrances for law enforcement

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A little over a month ago, we asked the Mandan Police Chief if increased mask usage was hindering police from identifying persons of interest, especially on surveillance tapes.

This is particularly important because shoplifting has been up for both the Mandan and Bismarck Police Departments during the pandemic.

Like the Mandan Police Chief, Lt. Luke Gardiner with the Bismarck Police Department says even with the addition of a mask mandate, officers are still able to identify suspects for the most part through other features.

He says, instead, masks have had more of a hindering effect on interviewing suspects because facial expressions are harder to read.

Lt. Gardiner says if the suspect is COVID-positive, then they can’t do an in-person interview at all, and over the phone, you definitely can’t read body language or see facial reactions.

“You know, the in-person stuff that we would normally do has been tailored down a little bit to keep officers safe and keep the people that we’re talking to safe, so with that comes challenges obviously,” he added.

Lt. Gardiner says the pandemic as a whole has made the job of law enforcement a little tougher.

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