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‘We want compliance:’ Law enforcement offers guidance on ‘Safer at Home’ order

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MILWAUKEE -- The next 30 days will be a new experience for millions of Wisconsinites; a "Safer at Home" order took effect Wednesday morning, March 25. So, how is it enforced?

The order asks for voluntary compliance from the public, and everyone is asked to avoid non-essential travel. Authorities said fines and arrests are an absolute last resort, but there are consequences for those that choose to put public health at risk.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling

"What we're asking for is cooperation from our citizens," Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling. "All non-essential travel and congregating is really irresponsible."

The public, at this time, is asked to only leave the house if necessary while still keeping a respectable distance from others to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

"We're not going to stop people randomly, just out of curiosity as to where they are going or checking to see if they are following the guidelines by the directive of the governor," Schmaling said. "We still need reasonable suspicion to stop motor vehicles based on a violation of the law."

The Milwaukee Police Department is among law enforcement agencies using social media to address public concerns.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales

In a video on Facebook, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said that officers have been instructed to be understanding as the public adjusts to the governor's orders. Authorities do say, however, that there are consequences for those that refuse to comply and put public health at risk.

"That said, should we get information or complaint that there's a large gathering, there's a bar or restaurant serving, we will go in and ask for voluntary compliance to try to disburse. If they refuse we will ask again," said Schmaling. "We want compliance. I have to believe we collectively want to get through this."

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) issued a reminder to the public as well.

"The COVID-19 virus is one of the most pressing and urgent challenges the sheriff's office and our community face," Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas said. "During this time, we ask everyone to follow current best practices pertaining to social distancing and personal hygiene to help keep our community space.

MCSO has also enforced internal social distancing measures, including the suspension of face-to-face meetings and restrictions to non-essential access to the Milwaukee County Jail.

FOX6 News asked Schmaling if he's dealt with anyone violating the order or the recent restrictions put in place. He said, so far, everyone is complying.

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