Calgary police issue more tickets for COVID-19 rule violations

Calgary’s police chief is warning that people can’t pick and choose the public health orders they follow.

Chief Mark Neufeld made the comments on Monday after video surfaced last week showing a 21-year-old man being arrested at a south west Calgary rink.

Read more: Video of arrest at Calgary community rink results in accusations of police ‘going overboard’

He was taken into custody for obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest.

Police said, despite the signs reminding people of public health restrictions, more than 40 people were using the rink.

Read more: ‘This is not an anti-mask rally’: 200 vehicles participate in weekend Freedom Convoy in southern Alberta

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“We do not live in a society where a person can pick and choose the laws they follow,” Neufeld said.

“Laws become unenforceable if people are free to simply walk away from officers without identifying themselves.

“There is a time and place to debate laws and you argue your innocence — and that is in the courts.”

Read more: Hundreds of Calgarians protest against mandatory COVID-19 restrictions

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Neufeld said some people clearly have a problem with the rules while others don’t seem to understand them, so officers have been explaining the restrictions to people.

But Neufeld said the number of tickets they’ve been handing out in parks and homes is very low.

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He said they are being issued at mass gatherings like protests on the weekend where five criminal charges were laid.

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He said around 30 tickets were handed out in the past week for Public Health Act and Face Covering Bylaw violations.

Read more: COVID-19: 3 charged following Calgary anti-mask rally

“Unfortunately we have been increasingly running into those who not only refuse to do their part but some have refused to comply with our request.

“Some have subjected our officers to abuse and personal attacks,” Neufeld said.

One of the rally organizers said the police could have handled the situation without making arrests.

“They could have just given tickets in a more safe environment,” said Jake Eskesen, with the Walk for Freedom organizing team.

“They could’ve even just ticketed them right there and then backed off and left it alone.”

Calgary’s police chief says the majority of the interactions they’ve had with the public regarding the COVID-19 rules have been positive.

He advises people to consider the seriousness of the complaint before they report it and is reminding everyone that these rules are just temporary measures needed for a common goal.

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