Last week Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel urged members of the public to notify local police departments if they had complaints about violations of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order. That's because the Attorney General's office was being overwhelmed by the volume of calls.
Robert Stevenson, excutive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said that while complaints to local law enforcement were initially high, they are now "a manageable flow."
"Originally I was hearing that a lot of the departments were receiving a lot of complaints, maybe partly out of confusion about what the emergency order covered because it was so new, " said Stevenson. "While complaints are still coming in, they have subsided from the original issuance of the order."
Whitmer's Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order became effective on Tuesday, March 24.
Stevenson said the MAPC is not hearing that police departments are being overwhelmed by the number of complaints being reported. City officials in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Sterling Heights confirmed that their experience was the same and they were able to keep up with the complaints. City officials in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Warren did not reply to requests for information.
"A common observed violation is people congregating in parks," said Stevenson. "And a common phone complaint is a business that is operating in possible violation of the emergency order."
"The majority of the citizens want to do the right thing," Stevenson said. "They just need to know clearly what the right thing is. Our agencies are taking the approach to educate, cajole, do whatever they can short of issuing a citation."
But Stevenson said if people and businesses refuse to stop violating the emergency order, they will be issued a citation. Each violation could result in a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.
"Police agencies just want the people to voluntarily comply," said Stevenson. "That's the best practice, and that's the most common response that we're seeing out there. People are voluntarily complying."
Stevenson said the MAPC has distributed to its members a business warning letter that he said the Howell Police Department is using. Stevenson called it an "excellent example of how police agencies are trying to get the word out to businesses and educate them."
Attorney General Nessel today praised local law enforcement for its help in making sure that Michigan businesses and residents comply with Whitmer's stay-at-home order.
Nessel said that local law enforcement agencies, and the Michigan organizations that represent the state's police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecuting attorneys, have been "phenomenal in terms of their commitment to helping Michigan residents understand, adapt to, and ultimately adopt the Governor's Stay Home, Stay Safe Order."