The Common Council passed an ordinance on April 21 to allow Milwaukee Police and the Health Department to issue a citation up to $500, in rare instances where individuals were deliberately violating the Safer at Home order that has been place in the city to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Effective May 2, 2020, the Milwaukee City Ordinance “Violation or Obstruction of Orders” citation can be issued. The citation does not replace the option to arrest and pursue criminal charges under state statute.
“Quite simply, this action does not affect the range of options and discretion for law enforcement for enforcing the ‘Safer At Home’ orders related to COVID-19,” said Alderman José G. Pérez. “What it does is it allows a middle ground for citations to be issued. If you are traveling to visit your parents or just heading to or from the store, or working in your yard, this will not impact you. But if you are attending a party or hanging out with a large group on the corner (non-essential activities), a citation could become an option for officers as you are clearly not abiding by the stay home order.”
As noted in a statement released by MPD on April 6, 2020, “Individuals who are out and commit crime will be arrested for violating the Governor’s order along with the crime the individual was initially arrested for. Individuals who are out for non-essential reasons and are involved in activity that leads to their victimization, or to the victimization of another, will be arrested for violating the Governor’s order.”
“We want to emphasize the importance of educating the public about the stay home order, but where it is needed – in rare instances – there also must be an option for arrest and pursuing criminal charges when individuals are willfully violating the order,” added Alderman Pérez.
MPD officers have already issued citations such as Resisting/Obstructing Police Officer to individuals who did not adhere to the order, and will continue to issue that citation until the effective date of the “Violation or Obstruction of Orders” citation. MPD plans to continue educating the public about the order, and the part we all play in reducing the spread of COVID-19.