“When we have large gatherings that are essentially flipping their nose at the public health order, which is a lawful piece of legislation, it’s frustrating because it takes a lot of resources and a lot of time,” Bray said.
Anti-mask rallies don’t just divert police resources away from other businesses for the length of the protest, Bray said. Time and resources are then allocated to identifying the people involved in these rallies, after the fact.
According to Bray, Regina police have issued more than 50 tickets in relation to anti-mask protests. That number could grow, as the Regina Police Service continues to work with the public to identify more protesters.
In contrast to what police have seen in previous weeks, Bray said a “much smaller group of people” gathered to protest public health orders over the weekend.
“They were actually distanced in a way that allowed them to not be contravening the health order,” he said.
“It is my hope that people, the general public, are understanding that there are consequences to being involved in these (protests) and are making their choices wisely.”
At that rally, RPS sent about three or four officers, Bray said. For “big operations,” there can be up to 30 or 40 officers, both in uniform and civilian clothes.
On top of that, the police chief said a number of Saskatchewan Health Authority officials and other government personnel worked with law enforcement during the protests.
Bray could not put a cost to the resource allocation, but said, when possible, the force will send available officers on shift, rather than bringing in extra ones specifically for the protests.
“You can’t just assume on a Saturday at two in the afternoon you can take every police officer in the city and put them in Victoria Park because there’s nothing else to do,” Bray said.
“There’s a lot to do out there so we have to try and manage our resources as best as possible.”
Anyone who can identify individuals violating public health orders during the rallies is asked to call Regina police at 306-777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.