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Elkhart County Sheriff says no to enforcing county’s ordinance on fining businesses, explains why in one-on-one

Sheriff Jeff Siegel tells 16 News Now’s Joshua Short the reason behind the decision.
Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 5:40 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - We’re continue to follow a story we first told you about Thursday night.

The Elkhart County Sheriff announced his officers will not take part in the direct enforcement of the county’s new mask ordinance.

The announcement comes as new COVID-19 cases in that county remain high. Tonight, 16 News Now’s Joshua Short talks one-on-one with Elkhart County Sheriff Jeff Siegel about the announcement and the reasons behind the decision.

“I’m not saying don’t wear a mask,” Sheriff Siegel told Josh in a Zoom conversation Friday. “I am saying please do what you can to keep yourself and others around you healthy.”

In their one-on-one, he backed up his statement, released Thursday, saying his officers won’t t be taking part in the direct enforcement of the ordinance. But why? He has a few concerns.

“The men and women of the Sheriff’s Office do a lot of work and I think because of this divide, it could create so much additional work for people, that it would almost be unbearable for myself and my officers,” Sheriff Siegel explained. He added: “I have concerns about a health officer or an emergency management director being responsible for the individuals who are going to be out doing these assessments of businesses and determining if there’s been a violation or not. Are they going to provide these individuals with any training?”

This comes just days after county officials announced businesses will be slapped with fines if they’re non-compliant with covid-19 measures, including wearing a mask.

But as officials begin scratching the surface of how to slow the steady spread this holiday season, many are scratching their heads tonight following Sheriff Siegel’s announcement.

“I number one have to look out for my citizens, the business owners and entities of this county. I also need to look out for my officers.”

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