On July 30, Jonathan Williams was pulled over by RCMP in Airdrie, Atla., for speeding — which under current protocols meant he would also be given a sobriety test.
Williams said it wasn’t until after a breathalyzer test was administered that it dawned on him the officer wasn’t wearing a mask or gloves.
“I didn’t really think anything of it, until he stuck something in my mouth, that he wasn’t wearing any gloves,” Williams said.
“Then I realized that he wasn’t wearing a mask.”
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After voicing his concerns, Williams said the officer claimed the RCMP didn’t supply them with masks and advised that he call the non-emergency line.
After being told to call back, Williams said he eventually spoke with an officer who said there were recommendations surrounding wearing personal protective equipment but no clear policy.
“I think everyone should feel safe when approached by a front-line worker,” Williams said.
“When you pull me over and you’re sitting behind me for ten minutes, why can’t you don a mask and put on some gloves if you’re doing a test in my mouth?”
Williams said he understands that RCMP officers deal with high-stress environments and that the opportunity to wear a mask isn’t always available. However, he noted he was shocked to see a lack of concern on the officer’s behalf for his own or the public’s safety.
In response to the concern, the RCMP issued a statement to Global News on Friday.
“Alberta RCMP have been regularly communicating to their members since mid-March with updates to our standard procedures as they pertain to the current public health guidelines from Alberta Health,” the statement said.
“Our members continue to conduct traffic stops to address high-risk driving behaviours and will use appropriate PPE when conducting these stops, especially when handling documents.”
RCMP noted that Alberta Health “doesn’t currently recommend the use of masks while outdoors where appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.” However, it also stated that all local health bylaws will be followed by officers where the use of PPE in public spaces is mandated.
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“As with all interactions with the public, our members use their best judgment and discretion in what type of PPE they use,” the statement said.
“Alberta RCMP strive for full compliance amongst our members, as we stand as examples in our community in the correct practice of all current public health guidelines.”
The RCMP added that all officers are supplied ample PPE and that it’s up to the discretion of the officer what to use and when.
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