Public safety vendor accused of price gouging amid coronavirus pandemic

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, prices for some products, such as masks, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, have seen big increases. Now, two Arizona lawmakers say a vendor is engaging in price gouging against first responders.

"What they see is that an item two months ago that would have costed them only $1 now costs them significantly more," said Bryan Clarke, Vice President of Galls.

Galls typically sells uniforms and other gear to first responder agencies. Now, their customers are asking for N95 masks, so they found a supplier to meet that demand.

"Our cost today for these types of items from China, given the demand and everything going on in China, the cost is now nearly $4," said Clarke. "So, we marked up those items like we normally do, and it leads to prices between $5 to $6 a mask."

Rep. Greg Stanton (D), however, doesn’t accept that reasoning.

"They are not required to go and acquire overly priced products to participate in the price-gouging scheme," said Rep. Stanton.

City of Phoenix officials have confirmed they did not make any purchases through Galls.

First responders in Phoenix say there is no shortage of masks. Phoenix Police Department officials say they’re stocked and prepared.

"We have enough for officers," said Mercedes Fortune with Phoenix Police. "We know that we’ve received a supply of them. We’re working with our partners in the fire department and combining our cache to make sure there’s enough for everybody.”

"Just because they’re one of many doesn’t make it any better," said Rep. Stanton. "That’s immoral. That’s unacceptable, and we are going to aggressively act."

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