Local police to handle violations of Governor Whitmer’s stay-at-home order

Mar 25, 2020

The Attorney General’s office issued new direction Wednesday on how local police should handle violations of the Governor’s “Stay at Home” order.

Police say they were initially told the Attorney General’s Office would respond to violations of the "Stay at Home" order.

Robert Stevenson, with the Michigan Chiefs of Police, said as the calls started to come in, it became clear the AG’s office didn’t have the staff to respond to every violation.

“Their policy is now everything is being referred to their local policing agency whether that be the Michigan State Police, a sheriff’s office, or a municipal agency.”

A spokesperson with the Attorney General’s Office confirmed that on Tuesday their office saw roughly six times the normal call volume with many of the additional calls related to the Governor’s executive order.

Stevenson said police will make the assumption that people violating the order don’t know they are doing so.

“What we’re hearing that our agencies are doing on those that are in violation is going out and basically giving them a cease and desist order. But our first order of course is to go out and educate people. Convince them, cajole, do whatever it takes to voluntarily comply with that.”

Stevenson said violations are misdemeanor offenses but he expects only repeat offenders will be in danger of a citation or arrest.

Stevenson said anyone calling to notify police of violations should call police business lines, not 9-1-1.

A spokesperson for the Michigan State Police says they do not plan to “conduct a coordinated campaign to inspect businesses to ensure compliance with the order.”

Any problems police have interpreting whether businesses fall under the Governor’s "Stay at Home" order will be handled by the Attorney General’s Office. 

Ryan Jarvi is a spokesperson with the AG’s Office. He said it’s clear there has been some confusion but the Attorney General will work with law enforcement to provide determinations on a case by case basis.

“I’m sure we’re going to be posed questions that nobody has thought about. At that point we’ll take a look at it and talk to the Governor’s people and then release that to the public.”

Jarvi said the state will likely continue to update FAQs to educate the public about what kind of businesses fall under the order. But, he said, the state likely won’t release information about specific businesses.

The Attorney General’s Office will also continue to respond on issues related to price-gouging and scams.