In first week of Denver’s mask order, police responded…
City officials say they’re still focused on education as they respond to calls from stores, banks, restaurants
On the afternoon of May 9, a customer walked into The Clinic Colorado on Colorado Boulevard in Denver without a mask on and attempted to buy marijuana.
A store employee, Adam Mikdad, told him they could not serve him without a face covering. The man, arguing that he has a breathing condition, became rude and unruly. He then refused to leave the store’s small atrium, making it impossible for customers to enter and exit the dispensary.
The incident was one of 50 in which Denver police became involved during the first week of Mayor Michael Hancock’s order mandating customers wear masks inside stores, according to data provided by the city’s Joint Information Center. The calls came from marijuana dispensaries and convenience stores, along with supermarkets, liquor stores, addiction treatment centers, banks and fast food restaurants.
Denver police did not issue any citations, Heather Burke, a spokeswoman for the Joint Information Center, said in an email.
“Officers are still trying to gain compliance through education,” she said.
When Denver first rolled out the mask order last week, city officials said businesses would be charged with ensuring compliance, and urged them to call 311 for any complaints and 911 if things escalated into violence or threats. Since the beginning of March, city officials have fielded 153 calls to 311 from businesses and citizens about noncompliance with public health orders, while there have been 84 complaints to 911 since May 6.
During the first full week of Denver’s mask order, from May 6 to 13, police were involved with 50 incidents, with 11 coming on the first day the ordinance took effect.
One of those calls came from the Denver Recovery Group, an addiction treatment center on East Colfax Avenue. A man walked in to get treatment and when staff told him he had to put on a mask, he initially seemed fine, said Denise Vincioni, the center’s director.
Then something flipped, and the man became aggressive, yelling that they were restricting his rights. Ultimately, staff had to call police.
Vincioni said the Recovery Group is used to dealing with a population that may be experiencing homelessness and mental health issues.
“We’re a medical facility,” she said. “We tell these people that we’re trying to keep them safe, and we’re going to do everything we can to do that.”
Mikdad said police never ended up coming to the dispensary that day, with the call enough to prompt the angered customer to leave. Other than that, virtually all the other customers have been fine with the mask order, he said.
By Sam Tabachnik | firstname.lastname@example.org | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. | UPDATED: May 16, 2020 at 9:58 a.m.
Article can be found at: https://www.denverpost.com/2020/05/16/denver-mask-order-coronavirus-police-calls/