Deputies will leave COVID-19 violation enforcement up to county officials

Photo credit Elkhart Co. Sheriff\'s Office/Facebook

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- Elkhart County Sheriff Jeff Siegel issued a press release about the enforcement of the county’s ordinance establishing fines for violations of COVID-19 related health directives.

The new ordinance establishes an incremental fine structure for businesses and entities that do not enforce safety measures such as mask wearing and social distancing.

The sheriff says he has concerns with enforcement of the ordinance so he will leave enforcement up to county officials.

He said deputies will be instructed to use caution when responding to disturbances related to enforcement of the ordinance.

Sheriff Siegel’s full statement:

COVID-19 has certainly created a challenging environment with many concerns for everyone this year. I would like to address the Elkhart County Ordinance to Establish Incremental Civil Fines for Violations of the COVID-19 Mitigation Directives, recently advertised by the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners.

The Elkhart County community is dealing with a real and concerning health crisis that will have a long lasting impact on many of our fellow citizens and their families. As the Sheriff, I recognize the difficult issues that are facing our healthcare system and my fellow elected officials. The challenges surrounding the need to make difficult decisions to protect our community are many. Our community leaders are taking actions to address these as they see fit.

I do have concerns with the enforcement portion of this ordinance and the impact it may have on our citizens. Due to these concerns, enforcement of this ordinance will be left to the officials who are charged with its enforcement. My officers will not take part in the direct enforcement of the ordinance. In addition, I am instructing my officers to use extreme caution when responding to any potential disturbances related to the enforcement of this ordinance and actions they may need to take. I will be monitoring these issues and fully expect that during the implementation of this ordinance that everyone’s rights will be respected.

I encourage all of our citizens to continue do their part, wear masks and follow all recommendations provided by the CDC and our healthcare professionals, to help mitigate exposures and reduce hospitalizations.

My hope would be that each one of us recognize the issues facing our community and take any practical actions that could help protect our fellow citizens. If we all do our part, we can render this ordinance irrelevant.

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