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Lethbridge police not taking ‘heavy-handed’ approach in COVID-19 enforcement

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge police not taking a ‘heavy-handed’ approach in COVID-19 enforcement' Lethbridge police not taking a ‘heavy-handed’ approach in COVID-19 enforcement
Lethbridge police say they have fined the organizer of a small anti-COVID restrictions rally held outside city hall on Tuesday. As Taz Dhaliwal reports, despite people and businesses publicly defying the public health orders, police say they don't want to take a “heavy-handed” approach in their enforcement – Jan 14, 2021

On Thursday, Lethbridge police confirmed they have issued two fines to the organizer of Tuesday’s anti-COVID restrictions rally, which took place in front of city hall.

The Lethbridge Police Service (LPS) issued the organizer two tickets over mandatory health measures in relation to COVID-19.

Mike Hoffman, the organizer of the event, has been charged under: Section 73 (1) of the Public Health Act, for Contravening an Order of Medical Officer of Health (Social Gathering), with a specified fine of $1,200.

He has also been charged under the City of Lethbridge Bylaw 5651, Section 6 (Assembly without a Permit), with a specified fine of $300.

Read more: Coronavirus: Lethbridge business charged with contravening public health order

Even though there were dozens who attended the event not adhering to public health orders, the organizer was the only one fined.

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“When we are looking at enforcement actions, as I’ve mentioned before, we have to look at a balanced approach to do enforcement and we certainly don’t want to go in with a heavy handed approach.”

Police didn’t initially name Hoffman as the organizer, but he posted a video of officers fining him on social media.

When asked why police didn’t release his name, LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said their goal is not to “shame” anyone.

He added that LPS will use its own discretion when it comes to releasing certain information in relation to those disobeying COVID-19 rules.

“We didn’t put it out cause everybody knows him. With our news releases, we’re not into trying to embarrass people or businesses,” Mehdizadeh said on Thursday.

“But obviously, he was on social media trying to organize the whole event and we felt this was the most balanced way to approach the protest,” he added.

 

Read more: Lethbridge mayor, police urge residents to follow provincial mask mandate

A similar incident occurred earlier in the week, when Peppermint Hippo Tattoo was fined for opening on Monday.

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Again, police didn’t mention the business by name, but owner Will Woods posted about it on social media, even saying the police who issued his court appearance agreed with him reopening the shop.

Will Woods. Will Woods/Facebook

Police say when it comes to COVID-19 enforcement, they will continue to operate on a case-by-case basis.

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