GREEN BAY (NBC 26) - Friday, a new order went into effect giving local police the ability to fine someone directly for violating the Safer at Home order. So what do you have to be doing to be charged?
Since the first order went into effect in March, law enforcement has been able to fine people for not following the Governor's order. But beginning Friday, Green Bay Police can now fine you $376 on the spot instead of having to wait. The department says it's a last resort. If fined, these charges would go through municipal court rather than criminal.
Here’s an example: You will not be fined for walking your dog. However, if you're walking your dog in an area that's supposed to be closed and police ask you to stop doing that and you don’t, then you could be fined.
“We don't want to give out these citations,” said Commander Kevin Warych with the Green Bay Police Department. “But sometimes when the officers have to investigate these calls and someone continually violates the order, compliance is not achieved and their education effort has failed, it kind of forces the officer’s hand and they got to do something.”
The Green Bay Police department said they've responded to hundreds of complaints for businesses and people. Before the new municipal citation order, officers could refer Safer at Home violations to the district attorney’s office. With the new order, they can skip that step. Police note that out of all of the calls they've received, there has only been three times where an officer had to make a referral to the DA.
“We want people to know they can go for a walk, they can walk by somebody, it's really the blatant violations where people are knowingly doing what they're doing, and probably having knowledge that this is in violation of the order and they continue to make that same violation,” Warych said.
A few of the violations include people gathering in large groups, hanging out in areas that are considered closed, or someone operating a business that is nonessential.
“It’s important for the community to know that if the officers show up and they educate you on the order and you give compliance, no one is getting citations.”
The department adds education and compliance are their first steps.
"The only thing that has changed is that officers now have the option to cite the person and send through Municipal Court rather than submitting a referral to the District Attorney’s Office through criminal court," according to the department's Facebook.
Anyone across the state of Wisconsin can still be charged for violating the Safer at Home order. But it's up to each city or town whether they enforce this specific ordinance; again the department saying this is a last resort.
"For example, we have been given unconfirmed reports that individuals in Brown County who have tested COVID-19 positive and are actively infected are refusing to remain in their homes as lawfully ordered by the health department," the department also mentioned on Facebook.
To read more about the Safer at Home extension, click here.