City hosts code enforcement legal class
Nearly two dozen code enforcement officers from 15 government entities around the state, took part in a week-long code enforcement class focusing on legal issues they may face on the job. The City of Panama City Beach hosted the class at the PCB Police Department.
Bay County Magistrate Tiffany Brown Certo was the class instructor, who covered a plethora of topics ranging from collecting and presenting evidence to how to treat the resident in violation of city codes.
Certo said she recognizes that some code enforcement officers come into the job with a general background on what they have the authority to do. Continuing education and training is essential, as they become knowledgeable on their municipal or county ordinances.
The code enforcement world requires not only knowledge of local ordinances, but expertise in the areas of right of entry, fines, recovery costs, demolition, repeat violations, due process, public nuisance and more. Code enforcement officers must also deal with angry citizens on occasion.
“The public has a misunderstood perception of code enforcement,” said Certo. “People have the thought that ‘It’s my property and I should be able to do what I want.’ If people understood, they would realize code enforcement protects everyone’s interests.”
Beth Rosenblatt, a 16-year veteran code officer with Alachua County, found the training helpful. “It is very applicable to what we do,” she said.
Participants, from Bay, Walton, Jackson, Hernando and Alachua counties, and the cities of Panama City Beach, Panama City, Callaway, Destin, Marianna, Fort Walton Beach, South Walton, Tallahassee, Mary Esther and Inglis, also learned to develop their cases for court. The group then practiced their skills with mock board hearings and trials.
The event was sponsored by the Florida Association of Code Enforcement and the Institute of Government at Florida State University. The class involved 36 hours of instruction followed by a two-hour exam.
Public Information Officer Debbie Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 233-5100, Ext. 2261.