Sidestepping enforcement


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Posted August 3, 2020 | Henry DeGeneste, retired Director of Public Safety & Superintendent of Police Port Authority Police of New York & New Jersey, Ocala

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks against an emergency ordinance to require face coverings during the Ocala City Council meeting at Ocala City Hall in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. The City Council voted 3-2 against the emergency mask ordinance suggested by Councilman Matt Wardell that would have required people in Ocala to wear face coverings in indoor locations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

When was the last time, if ever, the city of Ocala was faced with a request from some 700 Ocala doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, as were the Marion County Commission and the Belleview City Commission, about a public health issue that was of immediate concern?

I was shocked and dismayed that Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said one of his reasons for opposing the ordinance was he did not believe there is any evidence that masks help reduce the spread of the virus. All he needs to do is read scientific reports and studies from the C.D.C., Mayo Clinic, Stanford School of Medicine, N.I.H., Harvard Global Health Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, etc.

Additionally, both he and Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham said enacting such an ordinance requiring police to issue tickets would increase the number of calls for police service and called it “an overburden for us to enforce.”

I trust we can all agree that COVID-19 is an unprecedented national emergency and the spread of this virus is having specific deleterious impact on the State of Florida and Marion County at this time. I would therefore hope that our law enforcement leadership could recalibrate their enforcement priorities to deal with this proposed mandate, if ultimately enacted. They have done that in the past to enforce seat belt laws, hands-free cell phone laws and DUI laws, which by the way were all opposed at one time.

Henry DeGeneste, retired Director of Public Safety & Superintendent of Police Port Authority Police of New York & New Jersey, Ocala