In a startling policy reversal, the New York Police Department is advising store owners to refuse services to customers unless they remove their masks and show their faces.
Bodega owners are being crushed under a dramatic surge in robberies, and the NYPD’s Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey warned that masks are allowing criminals to escape police detection. Identification through security footage is extremely difficult when face masks are worn.
This, of course, is a dramatic switch from previous mandates requiring masks be worn to theoretically protect wearers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maddrey explained that “we’re seeing far too often where people are coming up to our businesses, sometimes with masks…hoods and latex gloves, and they’re being allowed, they’re being buzzed in and allowed to enter the store and we have a robbery.”
NYPD tells bodega owners to refuse service unless customers take off their face-masks to help cops combat massive crime spree in NYC https://t.co/Jun7pLEz7N
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) March 1, 2023
He said the NYPD is asking store proprietors to make exposing their faces a condition of entry. People should identify themselves and therefore be more readily recognizable to authorities.
Some bodega owners, however, say this will put them in greater danger from belligerent customers. Bronx proprietor Francisco Marte told WABC-TV that employees “don’t have a weapon to defend ourselves.” He recounted that he’s been shot three times.
He explained that it would be great if everyone entered his store with their face up towards the camera to be identified, “but we cannot force them to take off the mask.”
Marte added that he is being proactive in fighting the dramatic surge in crime. His bodega’s surveillance system is about to get an upgrade featuring facial recognition technology.
Shopper Norma Jean told the same outlet that customers now enter stores at their own risk. She declared “I don’t remember it being this bold and in your face.”
Another shopper, Emmanuel Celestrino, told WABC-TV that “I’d be offended because it’s my own way of feeling safe and I got really used to it during the pandemic.”
Still, another shopper lamented that people enter stores and the only thing visible are their eyes.
Arming shopkeepers would be a good start, but unmasking customers is also a step in the right direction. Violent crime in major cities has become bad enough without allowing criminals to approach their prey fully masked and covered.