The Racine County Sheriff’s Office will no longer enforce the state’s Safer at Home order.
The decision comes after Sheriff Christopher Schmaling released a statement Friday afternoon (April 17, 2020) about the extension of the state order, issued Thursday, through May 26.
His full statement:
“I want to take this opportunity to notify Racine County citizens of our position on the enforcement of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services public health emergency orders.
“Wisconsin law gives the Governor and the Wisconsin DHS the authority to develop emergency measures and enforce rules and orders to protect the public during a health crisis. However, state law does not have the power to supersede or suspend the Constitutional rights of American citizens.
“I urge the Wisconsin DHS to develop a workable plan that balances the safety of our citizens while at the same time acknowledging the fact that there is a way for business to operate even during the current health situation. I have all the confidence in Racine County business owners that they can make the appropriate adjustments in the way they operate during this difficult time to accommodate for the safety of their employees and guests.
“The overreaching measures taken by State government will have dire lifetime consequences for businesses, homeowners, and families. I took an oath to uphold the constitutional rights of our citizens and I can not in good faith participate in the destruction of Racine County businesses or interfere in the freedoms granted to all of us by our Constitution.
“Wisconsin law gives the authority and the responsibility for investigating and enforcing public health violations to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local health departments. We will leave the enforcement of public health orders to the health department experts.
“It is important that we stay focused on our obligations and responsibilities to those areas of the law that we are charged with enforcing. We have and will continue to concentrate our resources and efforts at keeping our roads safe and protecting our citizens from criminal activity.
“COVID-19 isn’t going to go away any time soon. I strongly encourage all of us to start thinking of our new “normal” way of doing business. Let’s get Racine County back on its feet again and move ahead.
“I understand the seriousness of the current health situation and I urge all Racine County citizens to continue to be responsible and to follow the social distancing, mask and hygiene recommendations of the CDC and the Wisconsin DHS. Let’s continue to look out for our neighbors and those less fortunate around us. Brighter days are ahead.”
Sheriff Christopher Schmaling
Racine Public Health Director Dottie-Kay Bowersox provided a response to Sheriff Schmaling’s statement.
“It is concerning and alarming that Sheriff Schmaling would be unsupportive and defiant of the extended “Safer at Home” order. The actions come in response to the best available science and data from the CDC and local public health officials. The fight against COVID-19 is not over and how we respond in the coming days, weeks, and months will determine whether or not we will be successful. Undermining this effort adds confusion to the public which imposes unnecessary risk to many residents. The economic hardships of employers and their employees is clear and definitive. They are understandably facing challenges that cannot be easily mediated and/or sustained long term. However, ensuring the health and welfare of all community members is an essential duty of all public servants which honors those we have lost or who are struggling at this time.”