MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police are allowed to issue citations to people failing to comply with Governor Tony Evers' "Safer at Home" order after the Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday, April 21 unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing $500 fines for violators.
The ordinance authorizes the commissioner of health and police officers to issue citations to anyone who willfully violates or obstructs the execution of the order issued under state statute.
"What's unique in this situation is we do have to, at times, take police action, and we are," said Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales.
Chief Morales announced more than 100 arrests had already been made before the ordinance was passed Tuesday.
"We have a total of 107 arrests related to Statute 252 for those that are violating the law relating to health," said Chief Morales.
Statute 252 states that public gatherings can be forbidden to control outbreaks, and that a person who is knowingly infected may not subject others to the danger of contracting the disease.
In Kenosha County, Sheriff David Beth said he's seen few violations.
"We've had very few calls on any issues with Safer at Home," said Sheriff Beth. "No citations, no arrests, complete compliance by everyone we've dealt with."
He noted one recent incident when playtime at a local dog park had to be put on pause.
"There were too many people sitting at a picnic table, the complainant thought, and the deputy addressed it, and they said, 'Oh, sorry, wasn't even thinking about it,'" said Sheriff Beth.
Sheriff Beth said he's working first and foremost to educate residents, and Chief Morales echoed that.
"We try to message first," said Chief Morales. "We try to educate, but when push comes to shove, we have to do our job, and if things get out of control, we have to do our job, and do the enforcement piece."
Chief Morales also noted that MPD has conducted more than 280 COVID-19 related checks on Milwaukee businesses.