While there are civil and criminal penalties for violations of the public health orders, the primary goal of law enforcement it to encourage voluntary compliance. Law enforcement and public health officials are tasked with investigating possible violations of the orders, but if they question you, you do NOT need to provide any paperwork or documentation that your travel is essential. There are no checkpoints because of COVID-19.
In one case, a woman told Aurora police she was stopped by an impersonator questioning her reason for travel on March 25 near East Sixth Avenue and Havana Street. She was on her way home from her job at an essential business just after midnight.
Police investigated her claim. When none of the nearby surveillance cameras corroborated her story, the woman confessed to police she had made it up. She was worried that her employer was not issuing “travel papers” and wanted to use the fabricated incident to pressure her employer.
Some of the other Colorado incidents reported as impersonators have also turned out to be fabrications or misunderstandings on the part of the reporters.
Remember, no legitimate public health or law enforcement official will ask you for any COVID-19 related paperwork. If you have concerns that a stop is not bona fide, call 911 immediately from a safe place.
While peace officer impersonators are rare, they do exist. The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has charged six people with that crime over the last three years. On Monday, an impersonation case was charged in Douglas County. The victim in that case reported that the defendant, a self-described bounty hunter in a car with flashing lights, pulled him over. This does not appear to be related to COVID-19 in any way, but that does not make it any less concerning.
“These are trying times on many levels for all of us. We need to work together to encourage everyone to follow the public health orders that are in effect,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “We need to — and we will — support our law enforcement officers in this time. Making false reports of crimes is lying, wastes resources and weakens our system. Pretending to be law enforcement and usurping their authority for any purpose is an attack on the legitimacy of our system. Neither will be tolerated in our community.”