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Letter to the editor 12-18-2015

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Confused by the sheriff

Headlined in the Dec. 11 issue of the South Marion Citizen, Sheriff Blair stated if you have a permit carry a weapon. He indicated he believed armed citizens could affect the outcome of actions taken by the deranged persons who are killing people all over our great country. I agree but, wonder why, based on his stated beliefs, he will not allow the volunteers in several of his volunteer units to carry weapons. I was with the Funeral Escort and Homeland Security Volunteer Units for quite a while and left due to my fear that driving a marked MCSO Cruiser and wearing an MCSO uniform definitely made me a target for some idiot who decided to kill a cop. Had I been allowed to be armed and able to defend myself I would have been proud to stay with the units even though that would not have removed all of the danger.
The MCSO has a large number of volunteers but, the Sheriff or his staff have failed to allow them to be used for additional services that would help the many handicapped citizens in the county. I suggested to him in a letter a while ago that was reviewed by Commissioner Kathy Bryant to allow volunteers to issue citations for illegal parking in the many handicapped parking spaces in the County. The City of Ocala and Citrus County allow this as do many law enforcement agencies around the country. My wife is handicapped and needs the ability to park close to stores as she has COPD requiring 24/7 oxygen and back problems so walking distances is hard for her. It is distressing how many times we can’t find a handicapped space and I observe that many of the vehicles in them do not have the handicapped license plate or hanger required for them to be parked there. The same volunteers could also be used to cite persons illegally parked in Fire Lanes and to direct traffic at accident scenes, fires, EMS responses, wires down etc like the OPD City Watch Volunteers do. Obviously it would take specialized training and definitely not all volunteers would be interested in doing these things but, even just a few out there could make life easier for handicapped citizens, allow Fire/EMS Equipment to use the marked Fire Lanes for their emergency work and relieve our over-burdened Deputies from routine traffic control.
Albert Pitts
Ocala