Racine County Sheriff will not enforce Safer at Home order after its extension

NOW: Racine County Sheriff will not enforce Safer at Home order after its extension

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RACINE COUNTY, WIs. (CBS 58 ) -- The Racine County Sheriff has no plans to enforce state public health orders on COVID-19.

Gov. Evers announced Thursday that he was extending his Safer-at-Home order through May 26.

In a media release on Friday, Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said his office will not interfere with the rights of citizens.

Schmaling wrote that state law is not above people’s constitutional rights to freedom.

And despite a public health crisis, he believes there is a safe way for businesses to be open.

Schmaling urged the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to come up with a new plan.

He called current measures “overreaching” and some residents agree.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for the law to enforce the requirements for business owners, I think they can do that on their own," Mount Pleasant resident Lee Ahern said.

“We have great respect for the sheriff and that idea," said Geri DuMont, owner of Dewey's Restaurant and Sport Bar.

DuMont said each business is different, and any success ultimately depends on the people.

The restaurant closed on March 15.

“It’s not going to help matters until the public is ready to come out and eat," DuMont added.

Schmaling still encourages residents to be responsible and follow health guidelines.

But he will now leave enforcement to state and local health experts.

He said his office will focus on keeping the “roads safe” and protecting citizens from “criminal activity.”

“He should focus on social distancing," Racine resident Daniel Martinez said. “Because there’s a lot of people out there that just don’t care about germs."

In a separate and unrelated action, Milwaukee County leaders issued their own statement.

The Chief Law Enforcement Executives Association told CBS 58 agencies are working with health departments to educate the public on restrictions.

They say those who willfully put others at risk will be referred for charges.

In a statement, the Wisconsin Sheriffs & Deputy Sheriffs Association said:

"As an organization that represents all Wisconsin sheriffs and deputy sheriffs, we do not take a stance on whether the governor's extension of the Stay at Home order is appropriate or not, and it is up to each sheriff on what portions of those orders he or she chooses to enforce."
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