Council Okays Fines for “Safer at Home” Violators
107 arrests so far by Milwaukee Police; now can issue fines of $500 to enforce state order.
The Milwaukee Police Department has a new tool to enforce the “Safer at Home” state order. Violaters can now be fined up to $500.
The Common Council unanimously authorized the new citation on Tuesday morning.
The police department has previously had to choose between providing only education and asking for voluntary compliance or arresting an individual for a misdemeanor violation of state statute 252 and forwarding them to the Milwaukee County Sheriff for processing.
“We have a total of 107 arrests related to statute 252,” said Police Chief Alfonso Morales on Monday afternoon. The state statute is what was invoked by Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm in issuing the “Safer at Home” order.
“We try to message first. We try to educate, but if push comes to shove, we have to do our job,” said Morales. He said the department averages 60 calls a day to residences with known cases of COVID-19 and has performed 282 business checks related to COVID-19 issues.
“The people that just choose to ignore the warning, there should be some level of consequence,” said Alderwoman Chantia Lewis. She said individuals shouldn’t be arrested for going to check on family members, but people gathering are putting the health of others at risk.
“I don’t want us to look like Brookfield,” said Lewis of the weekend protest against the order where hundreds of individuals were clustered close together.
“Safer at Home,” officially emergency order 12, requires individuals to stay six feet from non-household members except in cases of certain essential activities (social distancing). It went into effect on March 25th. It also closes non-essential businesses to all but “minimum basic operations.” Additional details on the order can be found in our coverage from March 24th.
State law allows a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment of up to 30 days for violating the order. Enforcement of the order is left to local officials.
The new city proposal still requires the signature of Mayor Tom Barrett to go into effect.
Morales declined to identify the number of police officers that have tested positive for COVID-19, but he said the number in self-quarantine was going down. Assistant Chief Regina Howard told the Fire & Police Commission last week that 18 employees had tested positive and 43 were in self-quarantine.
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Related Legislation: File 191963
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