CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team is investigating how Cleveland police may end up enforcing a new order for everyone to wear a mask due to COVID-19, yet we’ve uncovered new evidence showing the Cleveland 911 system often can’t keep up with the calls coming in already.
Friday, Mayor Frank Jackson announced an order for everyone to wear a mask in public. Hoping to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The mayor said he expects the health department and police department to enforce it.
Yet, the I-Team recently revealed 911 calls going unanswered in Cleveland.
And, now, we’ve uncovered, since March, nearly 13,000 emergency calls to the Cleveland 911 center did not get answered. The system often gets overwhelmed.
Now those same dispatchers also will soon be expected to take calls from you complaining about people not wearing a mask.
There is no enforcement on the mayor’s new order yet until city council acts. But calls to police are already coming in on this. For example, on Monday, a complaint came in about people not wearing masks in some downtown businesses.
While dispatchers struggle, at times, with the incredible number of calls coming in, patrol officers often get assigned an entire list of addresses where people need help.
So during a phone news conference, we asked the mayor if he sees Cleveland police enforcing this with people calling because, say, they saw people going into a store without masks.
“Having an extra burden on 911 is something we don’t want to do, but it’s something we have to do at this time,” Jackson said.
The Mayor added, he would rather have people wear a mask without any kind of crackdown. But you see how those calls will be coming in to a system already stretched to the limit.
Under the city’s proposal, individuals could face fines of $25-$50 for no mask. And businesses could be fined thousands of dollars for not enforcing social distancing.
Council will take up the matter later this month.
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