Lakeshore Sheriffs Push Back On Stay-at-Home Enforcement
While many Michiganders push back against the restrictions under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay-at-Home order, four sheriffs have joined their cause.
The sheriffs from Mason, Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau Counties say they will not fully enforce the executive order.
“Overall we’re looking for compliance we can’t make it punitive,” says Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel.
“We want everyone to be safe. We want people to stay home when they can,” says Schendel, “But it’s just gotten to the point that it’s getting a little too much.”
Mason County’s Kim Cole and Schendel are two of the four sheriffs who put out a letter saying reports of rule breakers will be handled lightly.
“We can’t just go do these things without warrants and justification,” says Cole, “An anonymous tip is not going to cover it.”
They say it’s common sense. It won’t be anarchy in the streets but deputies have the freedom to make the call.
“We’re going to take those on a case by case basis. We’re going to still respond to calls and we’re going to handle those accordingly,” says Cole, “But on’t expect us on every case to write a $1,000 ticket.”
Because it’s ultimately their crews being put in danger.
“People will fight to the death to protect their property,” says Cole.
The memo has made national news. Governor Whitmer says this is about saving lives and the sheriffs agree. But not by sacrificing rights.
“This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about whether or not we like the governor, I respect the governor. I respect her position,” says Cole, “But there’s got to be some guidelines that fall in line with the United States Constitution.”
“Law enforcement officers – including those elected to serve their communities – take an oath to uphold the law. By statute, the Governor’s Executive Orders are law and law enforcement officers are duty-bound to enforce them,” says Attorney General Dana Nessel in a written statement, “As with similar offenses, those law enforcement officers on the front lines have a reasonable amount of discretion when responding to complaints. We trust that discretion is being used wisely to protect the public health of the communities and state they serve.”
For the sheriffs, it’s not what’s essential or not but what is safe or not.
“We still need social distancing. We still need to wear masks and wash our hands,” says Schendel, “We’re not saying don’t do any of that but we want to apply common sense to this.”