Wisconsin law enforcement agencies react to Gov. Evers’ mask mandate

Coronavirus

WFRV Local 5 will update this as more agencies provide responses.

(WFRV) – After Governor Tony Evers issued an Emergency Order creating a statewide mask mandate, many Northeast Wisconsin law enforcement agencies spoke out, saying they would not enforce the order.

According to a Frequently Asked Question document provided with the order, Wisconsinites who see someone not wearing a mask should do “nothing” despite violators potentially facing a civil fine of up to $200.

Select a department below to jump to their statement:

Appleton Police | Brillion Police | Brown County | Calumet County| Dodge County | Door County agencies| Fond du Lac County | Oconto County | Outagamie County | Manitowoc County | Shawano County |Sheboygan County agencies | Two Rivers Police | Washburn County | Waupaca County

Appleton Police

“If you are a customer or citizen, and see an individual not wearing a face covering which makes you uncomfortable please exercise social distancing, don’t confront them, and don’t call the police. There are many circumstances in which individuals are not required to wear a face covering,” Appleton Police said in a Friday release. “If you are one of those individuals who cannot wear a face covering, please be kind to those around you as well and do your best to create social distancing.

“It is important for our citizens to know that due to our limited resources, and the complexity of the order, we will not be able to respond to complaints that are solely of an individual not wearing a face covering. We believe our community members understand the importance of this issue and so far, we have seen overwhelming voluntary compliance.”

Brillion Police

Brillion Police Chief Kirk Schend says that, “from a common-sense standpoint, having out officers removed from their duties to investigate someone not wearing a face-covering removes us away from what our great citizens expect.

“We want to remind the public that 911 should only be used in an emergency to ensure that those who need immediate, life-saving help can get the attention they need without delay. Please do not call 911 to report people who may not be complying with the face-covering mandate.”

Brown County Sheriff

Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain says the “Sheriff’s Office will not be responding to complaints of individuals violating the Governor’s mandate, nor will it be taking any direct law enforcement action as it relates to the Governor’s face covering mandate.

“Consistent with our understanding of Executive Order #82, the goal is compliance and education and is not meant to be punitive,” Sheriff Delain says. “However, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office will continue to respond to reports or complaints from a business owner, manager or other premise owner who has already requested that an individual leave a premise for failing to comply with the face covering mandate as it relates to that specific premise. In those situations, our focus is not on the face covering order itself, but rather the fact that the individual is not wanted in a particular place, that the individual has been asked to leave and has not complied with the request of the person in control of that premise.

“At this time, it is not clear who the Governor has designated to be responsible for the primary enforcement of the face covering mandate,” Sheriff Delain says.

Calumet County Sheriff

Calumet County Sheriff Mark Wiegert says “the Calumet County Sheriff’s Office will not be responding to complaints of individuals violating the Governor’s mandate, nor will it be taking any direct law enforcement action as it relates to the Governor’s face covering mandate.”

“This enforcement response is consistent with most, if not all, of the other Sheriff’s Offices throughout Northeast Wisconsin. We anticipate more information about the enforcement of the Governor’s executive order to come from the Governor’s Office or the Wisconsin Attorney General within the next few days. At this time, it is not clear who the Governor has designated to be responsible for the primary enforcement of the face covering mandate.”

Dodge County Sheriff

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt says, “The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has identified some significant challenges for enforcement of this mandate, as there are once again many loopholes, which are open to interpretation.

“As a result of the legal difficulties with this order, the limited staffing we have available to enforce the mandate, and the Governor’s direction that the public should do nothing if they see someone not wearing a mask, we are asking that you NOT contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office to report incidents where someone is not wearing a mask. Dodge County Sheriff’s Deputies will not be responding to or investigating these incidents.”

Door County law enforcement

“In order to provide some clarification, please be advised Door County Law Enforcement simply doesn’t have the personnel available to respond to complaints of individuals violating the Governor’s mandate,” Door County Law Enforcement said in a joint release.

“Please do not contact the Door County Communications Center to report people not wearing face coverings, as they, too, are very busy handling urgent law enforcement, EMS, and fire-related calls.

“Please know, during this time of uncertainty for individuals and families, we will do our best to offer the services and support our community needs. We appreciate the willingness of our citizens to comply with the order and recommendations of the various agencies overseeing this unprecedented health emergency, and for doing their part to help our community navigate through this difficult time.”

Fond du Lac County Sheriff

“Please do not contact the Fond du Lac County Communications Center to report people not wearing masks, as they, too, are very busy handling urgent law enforcement, EMS, and fire related calls,” says Fond du Lac County Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt. “We do ask that everyone respect each other’s individual decision whether or not to wear a mask, make your own decision to wear or not wear a mask based on personal health concerns and concerns for others around you, and respect all private businesses that require masks on their property.

“We recognize that Covid-19 is a legitimate public health concern, but I respect your individual freedom to decide how you protect yourself. As with any virus, we encourage you to stay home if ill, cover your coughs and sneezes, distance yourself from others around you in public, wash your hands often, and wear a mask when you deem appropriate or when on the private property of others who are asking you wear a mask.”

Oconto County Sheriff

“In order to provide some clarification, please be advised that, at this time the Oconto County Sheriff’s Office will not be physically responding to or investigating complaints made solely on individuals violating the Governor’s mask mandate,” Sheriff Todd Skarban said in a release.

“The Oconto County Sheriff’s Office will continue to respond to reports or complaints from business owners who have already requested that an individual leave for failing to comply with their face covering mandate.”

Outagamie County Sheriff

“We ask the public to not call the Sheriff’s Office or the Outagamie County Communications Center to report individuals not wearing a mask. The Communications Center will continue to focus on handling urgent law enforcement, fire and EMS related calls for service,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a release.

“Unfortunately, there has been a lack of communication between the Governor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office with local law enforcement and government leaders regarding this mandate and other COVID related restrictions.

“The Sheriff’s Office will not be responding to complaints of individuals violating the Governor’s mandate, nor will we be taking any direct law enforcement action as it relates to this mandate.”

Manitowoc County Sheriff

Manitowoc County Sheriff Dan Hartwig says, “The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office will continue to focus on what we do, investigating crimes and protecting the public, as opposed to investigating or responding to complaints about those without face coverings.”

Sheriff Hartwig continues, saying “The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office staff has sworn an oath to protect the constitution and protect our citizens’ rights. There is a difference between public safety and public health.

“We want to remind the public that 911 should only be used in an emergency to ensure that those who need immediate, life-saving help can get the attention they need without delay. Please do not call 911 to report people who may not be complying with the face-covering mandate.”

Shawano County Sheriff

Shawano County Sheriff Adam Bieber says his deputies “imply do not have the time or resources to devote attention” to complaints that people are not wearing masks.

“We certainly ask that you abide with private businesses who have requirements while on their private property,” he says. “We will continue to work within our community to combat serious crimes that face our community.

“As with any viral disease we encourage you to take steps to stay healthy, wash your hands, distance yourself, cover your cough, etc. I support personal responsibility, education, and I support your right to ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'”

Sheboygan County Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies in Sheboygan County came together to ask citizens and visitors in the county to “voluntarily comply with the order.”

“Please do not call 911 or dispatch to report any issues with the Emergency Order. These lines are needed for emergencies. Please follow the Governor’s recommendations.

“If you see someone in public not wearing a mask, please remember that some people cannot safely wear face coverings,” the release says. “If you see someone not wearing a face covering, please don’t intervene. Continue to wear your mask and practice social distancing of 6 feet or more.”

Two Rivers Police

Two Rivers Chief of Police Brian Kohlmeier says, “As a law enforcement entity, we have an obligation to enforce executive/emergency orders and we will do so reasonably.

“The City of Two Rivers and the Two Rivers Police Department recognize that face coverings are a proven, effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19. As a law enforcement entity, we have an obligation to enforce executive/emergency orders and we will do so reasonably.”

Chief Kohlmeier continues, saying the department will not randomly conduct spot checks or stop people because they aren’t wearing a face covering.

“We will respond to and investigate complaints, particularly those where there is a distrubance or threat of a disturbance as a result of non-compliance. We have always done and will continue to do our best to on educating our citizens and seek voluntary compliance. It is in all of our best interest to comply with the Order.”

Two Rivers Police do not have the authority to grant exemptions and the City of Two Rivers does not have authority to implement less restrictive rules, according to Chief Kohlmeier.

Washburn County Sheriff

Washburn County Sheriff Dennis Stuart says “The Washburn County Sheriff’s Office will not participate in any enforcement in regards to the wearing of masks.

“We believe it is government overreach and unconstitutional on many levels. My deputies have sworn an oath to the Constitution, and when a law or order is in conflict, we must defend the individual rights of our people. You have an individual right to make your own medical decisions. We as government officials shall not intrude,” Sheriff Stuart continues.

Waupaca County Sheriff

Waupaca County Sheriff Timothy Wilz says “the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office will not be responding to complaints of individuals violating the Governor’s mandate, nor will it be taking any direct law enforcement action as it relates to the Governor’s face covering mandate.”

“The Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office supports individual actions taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the release says. “Consistent with our understanding of Executive Order #82, the goal is compliance and education, and not intended to be punitive. However, the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office will continue to respond to reports or complaints from a business owner, manager, or other premise owner who has already requested that an individual leave a premise for failing to comply with the face covering mandate as it relates to that specific premise.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss

Coronavirus News

More Coronavirus

Trending Stories

Your Local Election HQ

More Election

Local Sports

Phoenix set to begin Will Ryan Era against Minnesota

High School Sports Xtra: Girls Basketball primer, Local 5 Top 5

High School Sports Xtra: Football playoffs wrap up with Level 2

Xtra Point: Level 2 High School Football Playoffs

Green Bay Nation 11/18: Packers survive Jaguars

Green Bay Nation 11/18: Pick Em