Pitkin County sheriff to Aspen community: Comply with health order or face summonses | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County sheriff to Aspen community: Comply with health order or face summonses

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails ranger Pryce Hadley puts a new social distancing sign at the trailhead of Smuggler Mountain Road on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The sign urges people to follow the social distancing guidelines to help keep access to public spaces available during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Thursday that local law enforcement will be stepping up their efforts to enforce the local “stay at home” public health order that limits gatherings to five or fewer, the closure of non-essential businesses and the mandate of staying 6 feet apart from one another to slow the spread of COVID-19.

DiSalvo has a unified front on public health order enforcement with police chiefs from Basalt, Snowmass Village and Aspen.

“You should know that all four agencies will be using Colorado revised statute 25-1-516 to enforce the Pitkin County Public Health order,” he said during Thursday’s community meeting. “Sadly, you’ve seen some behaviors that are incredibly thoughtless, as well as potentially dangerous.

“We will not hesitate to arrest and summons individuals who make poor choices that invade your fellow community members or first responders.”

That was the case earlier this week when a local man was charged with disorderly conduct after coughing in a woman’s face on the Rio Grande Trail. She had asked him to move away from her to follow the physical-distancing guideline.

DiSalvo noted that summonses issued going forward will unlikely lead to jail time but “we will not hesitate to write tickets, especially for those who are egregiously irresponsible when it comes to the spread of this disease.”

DiSalvo, who is in quarantine at his Aspen home with his wife, Marcy, who has COVID-19 symptoms, said the more people comply with the order, the sooner life can return to normalcy.

“In the last nine days and being quarantined in my home with my wife. … I believe in flattening the curve,” he said. “I think this is something that will work. I think we can expect that this will be the new normal for the next four to six weeks and I firmly believe that the more time that we spend inside flattening this curve, the quicker we will get back to normal.”

He added that he wants there to be a national stay-at-home order, and that Pitkin County came out with one of the most aggressive ones even before the state of Colorado.

“I think I am living proof that no one is exempt from this virus,” DiSalvo said.

Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor, Snowmass Village Police Chief Brian Olson, Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott and DiSalvo penned a letter to the public that says while most residents appreciate law enforcement’s community policing approach, it’s up to people to take the need to restrict themselves from essential activities seriously.

The four agencies are working together with staffing, and have plans in place that if one of the departments gets hit with the virus worse than another, they will loan each other staff.

“So you may see different uniforms in the community but we’re not there yet, but we do have contingency plans for that,” DiSalvo said.

Pitkin County commissioners met in executive session Thursday to discuss enforcement of the public health order and get advice from counsel on how to carry it out.

“This is all new,” said County Manager Jon Peacock. “As the orders get more strict, enforcement is more of a challenge.”


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