ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Newly obtained video from a school bus security camera shows the confrontation between a Rockwood school bus driver and a police officer who said he would "report" her for asking kids to wear mask on the bus.
5 On Your Side has confirmed with the Arnold, Missouri, police chief the officer in the confrontation is with his department which does not patrol any part of the Rockwood district. Arnold Police Chief Bob Shockey said the officer has children in the Rockwood school district.
The video shows the officer talking to the bus driver through the main door, standing just outside the bus.
"OK. I’m going to report you, OK?" said the officer on the video. 5 On Your Side is not naming him at this time because he has not been charged with any crime.
"You’re going against the law. You know that, right?" he continued. "There’s an executive order by Eric Schmitt saying you cannot wear a mask."
The confrontation happened last Friday. Earlier that week Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt put out a call for parents to report school districts still requiring masks after a Cole County court invalidated mask mandates by state and local health departments. Schmitt even called for parents to take photos and video of violations.
But Missouri's attorney general does not have the authority to issue executive orders and school boards across the St. Louis region say they have the authority to issue their own mandates separate from health departments.
Rockwood said it requires masks on buses to comply with federal regulations regarding public transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In the state of Missouri, you don’t have to wear a mask, it’s optional," the officer continued to say to the bus driver.
Shockey, the Arnold police chief, told 5 On Your Side he did not believe the officer got on the bus until the driver "called him over" to hand the officer a phone number he had requested to file a complaint. The video appears to show the driver wave to the officer before he steps on the bus and she hands him something.
It also shows her hand shaking as she calls on the bus two-way radio to ask, "should I proceed?"
"Yes, please continue on," someone responds.
“I think the police officer got the law wrong,” said Saint Louis University law professor Rob Gatter, who has studied mask mandates.
Gatter points out that not only are masks currently required on busses as part of a federal order, but he believes school boards do not fall under the Cole County court ruling that invalidated health orders from local health departments.
Gatter also notes Missouri’s attorney general has no authority to issue an “executive order” as the officer is heard saying on the video.
“While every police officer ought to know what the law is before they go about enforcing it, in some ways I give the police officer a little bit of a pass because the Missouri attorney general has been sowing the seeds of confusion with respect to what the law is about,” Gatter said.
The Rockwood School District confirmed to 5 On Your Side both the Eureka and Arnold police departments requested copies of the bus video and are said to be investigating.
The Arnold department, where the officer works, did not return a call for comment on the video Thursday.
This is a developing story and will be updated as we learn more.