Rockland County Executive Ed Day said he is "fed up" with residents violating the social distancing rule to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Rockland County now has 29 deaths due to the virus.
Day is now asking the state government for the help that would authorize the police and other officials to enforce the rules set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo under his Executive Order that limits the size of gatherings, among other rules limiting exposure to others.
In a scathing statement, Day said he was done seeing people all across Rockland violate "the common-sense social distancing guidelines" issued by the state.
But Day says he and other county executives' hands are tied when it comes to enforcing the guidelines due to a lack of clarity on what's permitted.
The county executive would like police and code officials to be able to enforce fines and prevent such events as large gatherings.
A retired NYPD commander and Baltimore chief of detectives, Day said his office submitted a request to the New York State Commissioner of Health to obtain local authority to enforce the order. That request was flat out denied, Day said.
His office has asked again, in hopes that all "local" governments will be able to enforce the rules against larger gatherings, etc.
"Not just for Rockland County but across our state, please give us the ability to ensure the health, safety, and lives of our residents," Day said. "In the meantime, we will be resubmitting our original request for a local Emergency Order which does allow for local enforcement by police agencies."
The police have advised Day's office that they cannot enforce rules, prohibiting gatherings, closing businesses, etc., that the District Attorney's Association has found to be mere, “helpful hints," Day said.
"This situation has completely hamstrung law enforcement’s ability to enforce these orders," Day said. 'This has placed a significant burden on the county’s health inspectors, whose regular job does not include maintaining public order, a task they are not trained or equipped to handle.'
Day points to the measles crisis of last year, where the county was found issuing fines a great deterrent on similar behavior.
"When we had autonomy of action, we were able to bring that outbreak to a halt, he said.
Day is hoping to receive some guidance or authority before Passover and the Easter holidays. And he's asking the people to do what's right for neighbors and relatives: "Just stay away from each other. Do the right thing."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.