GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – As COVID-19 cases begin to spike in Brown County, local police have another tool, if needed, to help enforce the governor’s Safer at Home order. It’s a new ordinance, that when used, carries a hefty fine.
Ever since Governor Tony Evers issued his Safer at Home directive closing non-essential businesses and asking people to stay home, Green Bay Police have had a lot of reports of individuals ignoring his order.
“We have received hundreds of complaints in the police department about the violation of the order,” said Commander Kevin Warych.
But Warych says the vast majority have been quickly resolved by officers through a little education.
“Our message from day one has always been about compliance and education,” said Warych.
But now, if the situation escalates and officers feel a need to take a stand, they have a new city ordinance on the books that imposes a large fine.
“Certainly hope we don’t have to use it and I’m sure the police would rather not have to use it,” said Alderman Randy Scannell.
This month Green Bay City Council adopted a state statute – concerning a violation of law relating to health – into the city’s ordinances. It gives police the power to issue a $376 citation to those ignoring the Safer at Home order.
“If there’s anybody who’s really, for whatever reason, going to dig in and say I’m not going to follow this, we need to be able to have some force behind enforcing it,” Scannell said.
Until now Warcyh says officers made criminal referrals to the Brown County DA’s office and resolving those cases takes time. But armed with the ordinance – Warych says his officers have options.
“A municipal citation can go through municipal court rather quickly and be more streamlined, in the fact the officers can hold those people accountable if they choose to,” Warych said.
“This is serious stuff. We need to obey this governor’s order,” Scannell said.
Warych stresses that the vast majority of people are following the order and that police won’t randomly stop anyone just to issue them a citation.