Joint county and city commissions will talk emergency order enforcement, aviation unit, radio system on May 29

joint commission
joint commission
The Alachua Board of County Commissioners and the Gainesville City Commission will outline plans for a continued shared aviation law enforcement unit, the upgrade and expansion of the trunked radio system (TRS) and enforcement Emergency Order 20-25 on Friday, May 29th.

The public may attend the virtual meeting through Cox Channel 12, Facebook, or the County’s Video on Demand website. For meeting audio only, call 301-715-8592, and when prompted, use code 670 965 3024.

The public may submit comments to the board through email ( or by calling into the public comment message line when prompted to call during the meeting. The public is encouraged to submit any written or photographic documents prior to the meeting to

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Public TRS System

The TRS System is used for communication throughout the County by numerous governmental law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and other first responders, including but not limited to: City of Gainesville Fire Rescue, City of Gainesville Police Department, Santa Fe College Police Department, City of High Springs Police Department, City of High Springs Fire Department, City of Alachua Police Department, University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville Airport, US Marshall Service, State Attorney, Alachua County Fire Rescue, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, City of Newberry Fire Department, and others (Collectively, the “TRS System Users”).

Users rely on the TRS System as their primary means of communicating both internally and with each other during both normal operations and during public emergencies. GRU recently spent approximately $5,000,000 to upgrade the TRS System within the geographic boundary of the City of Gainesville, but there are still significant geographic areas of Alachua County that lack TRS System coverage due to an insufficient number of radio communication towers and deficiencies with the existing radio communication system infrastructure. 

A surtax increase of .5 percent starting beginning Jan. 1, 2021 and ending Dec. 31, 2021 will partially fund the design, construction and improvement of the public safety TRS and to acquire related property interests.

 ACSO/GPD Joint Aviation Unit

The Joint Aviation Unit (JAU) ran on a budget of $103,898 for the fiscal year 2019-2020. That amount covered the salary expenses of an aviation mechanic, tools, bulk hangar rental, and maintenance supplies.

According to the ACSO website, “The JAU is a joint cooperative effort between the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the Gainesville Police Department, operating under the authority of the Sheriff of Alachua County. The Aviation Unit provides a valuable resource to all emergency response agencies in Alachua County and throughout the region. Sheriff’s Office unit personnel include a full time Chief Pilot, a Tactical Flight Officer, back-up and volunteer pilots, on-call TFOs, and an Aviation Maintenance Technician.”

And according to the City of Gainesville GPD “The mission of the JAU is to provide aerial support to all law enforcement and public safety agencies within the City of Gainesville and Alachua County. The aviation unit has flight crews from the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office that fly three military surplus OH-58 helicopters.  The helicopters are all equipped with search lights and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) thermal imaging cameras. Microwave downlink equipment then sends the FLIR images to officers on the ground. The flight crews respond to in-progress crimes, missing persons, and conduct routine patrol flights. 

In addition to assisting law enforcement agencies within Alachua County, the JAU also assists other departments of the various city and county governments. Homeland security flights and storm damage assessments are conducted for utility companies. Command and control flights are conducted for Alachua County Fire Rescue and Gainesville Fire Rescue during forest fires and large building fires.  Code Enforcement Officers use the helicopter as a platform to conduct investigations. The Department of Environmental Protection also utilizes JAU services for natural resource management. The JAU also conducts public demonstrations of their capabilities to various groups throughout Alachua County.

In 2007, the Joint Aviation Unit was awarded the Excellence in Aviation – Unit of the Year award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The JAU also received the Eagle Vision Award from American Eurocopter the same year.

Learn more by watching this video

Alachua County Emergency Order 2020-25

The emergency order that first went into effect on March 16th has been amended every few weeks to accommodate pandemic events and to address the stages of reopening Alachua County.

“The Board of County Commissioners believes based upon the foregoing that it is important to be cautious in the process of opening up businesses in the absence of detailed testing and contact testing while implementing the Governor’s plan in phasing, reopening as local conditions allow to be done with prudence,” the order states.

“Governor DeSantis issued Emergency Order 20-131 on May 22nd, 2020, removing any state restrictions on summer camps and sports activities for youth,” it also states.

“Acting on his own authority as the Official Authority and based upon the actions taken on May 26th by the Board of County Commissioners meeting in public session after considering Emergency Order 20-131…Therefore, it is ordered that:

“Those who are vulnerable to infection should stay home as much as possible. Those who are not considered to be at risk should use prudence when leaving their home and stay at home, if possible.

“All public places where social distancing is difficult to effectuate are closed to the public, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, water parks, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, , movie and other theaters, concert and music halls.

“All services and activities permitted to be operated by Governor DeSantis’ Executive Orders (in existence as of this Emergency Order and executed subsequent to this Emergency Order) may operate in Alachua County pursuant to the standards contained herein and referenced by this Emergency Order.”

The order emphasizes 50 percent capacity of operations such as businesses and the adherence to CDC standards and there are some restrictions such as, “Private museums, libraries, botanical gardens and wildlife preserves may operate at 50% occupancy, but shall not allow any use of interactive displays or playground equipment.”

Use of facial coverings has been a controversial topic, but a recent ruling deems it constitutional or the BOCC to mandate that Alachua County residents and visitor wear face coverings in public businesses and situations where social distancing is difficult.

“Persons working in or visiting grocery stores, restaurants, in-store retail establishments, pharmacies, construction sites, public transit vehicles, vehicles for hire, along with locations where social distancing measures are not possible shall wear facial coverings as defined by the CDC,” the order states.

“Facial covering includes any covering which snugly covers the nose and mouth, whether store bought or homemade, and which is secured with ties or ear loops.

And there are exceptions to the face covering rule. “A facial covering shall not be required for children under six, persons who have trouble breathing due to a chronic pre-existing condition or individuals with a documented or demonstrable medical problem.”

Pools have been given clearance reopen as long as they follow CDC standards. “Activity in pools shall be limited to activities with social distancing and occupancy of 1 person per 100 square feet of water surface. Groupings outside the pool shall be limited to no more than 10 individuals,” the order states.

And addressing gathers the order states, “Groups of people greater than ten are not permitted to congregate in any public space that does not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. Groups greater than 10 may be ordered to disperse. This includes any gathering which takes place in the commons area of any multiple residence facility.”

The agenda for the Friday meeting will address enforcement of the County order.

“A violation of section 4 of this Order is a noncriminal infraction,” the order states. “A violation of section 4 of this Order does not authorize the search or arrest of any individual prior to issuing any citation the individual will be asked to comply with the order or be able to explain how 4(c) (exemption) applies to them. 

“Failure to comply with the requirements of section 4 of this Order presents a serious threat to the public health, safety, and welfare, pursuant to Chapter 162, Florida Statutes, and a citation may be issued immediately for such violation. The County shall enforce the first violation of section 4 of this Emergency Order through a fine of $125.00 to the violator. The second violation of section 4 of this Emergency Order shall be subject to a fine of $250.00 to the violator. All subsequent violations of section 4 of this Order shall constitute a Class V violation under Article II, Chapter 24 of the Alachua County Code of Ordinances, requiring a mandatory court appearance and subject to a fine not to exceed $500.00.

Despite the City of Newberry’s rejection of the County’s order, and adoption of it’s own order as a gesture to align Newberry with the State Order, the County order states, “This Emergency Order applies to incorporated and unincorporated areas within Alachua County, but has no application outside of Alachua County. Municipalities have the authority to enforce this County Order within their jurisdiction. Municipalities are authorized to impose regulations which are more stringent than those set forth herein.

“The County or municipalities within its boundaries will direct any establishment to cease and desist operations that are in violation of this Emergency Order and may treat violations as a violation of County or Municipal ordinance as appropriate. The County has jurisdiction countywide to enforce the terms of this Order.”

For more details and about the May 29th meeting, click here.

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