By Jamie Leary

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – With crowds expected to hit the slopes in force over spring break, one mountain community plans to use private security to enforce public health orders.

(credit: CBS)

“We find that occasionally, people are surprised at our level of caution here in Breckenridge,” said Jim Baird, Chief of Police with the Breckenridge Police Department.

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Breckenridge is one of a handful of towns in the country with an outdoor mask mandate, which Baird says can catch visitors off guard.

(credit: CBS)

“We really try to recognize that we have this additional restriction on people when they come to town, but we know the that’s not the world that most people live in, so we have been handling it by either just asking for compliance in putting a mask on, or by leaving the mask zone.”

Breckenridge police have been able to do some enforcement but say the added security during spring break is necessary. It’s one of the busiest times for the department.

“We know that spring break will bring additional resource needs where we’ll have to be in other places, and so the goal of this is to try to take a little bit of the ownness off of the frontline workers that work on Main Street,” he said.

In addition to Breckenridge police, businesses in the Summit County town have been taking on the brunt of enforcement and say instances of customers pushing back are common.

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“We’ve had a steady stream of people all winter, so the traffic has not died down due to the virus, so we have had to deal with a little bit more of the patroling,” said Chris Mizelle, an employee at Craniologie.

(credit: CBS)

Mizelle says customers are usually compliant if they have to be reminded, but the likelihood of an unpleasant encounter increases during busier times.

“It has definitely added a whole new element into our job duties and description, but we’re making the best of it in a sense too, and as a small business we want to stay open, so we take it pretty seriously,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

Manager Joe Buth says it makes a difference when patrols are out and he’s glad the town invested in private security for spring break.

“I think it’s helpful just to take some of the heat off of us,” he said.

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The town has employed two private security guards from the Breckenridge Municipal Court, who will patrol the downtown area each day during the March spring break period.

Jamie Leary