As Wisconsin residents adjust to life under Gov. Tony Evers’ safer-at-home order, police departments want drivers to know they won’t randomly be stopped and asked where they’re going.
“We understand many people are anxious and unsure in this unprecedented time,” the Appleton Police Department said in a Facebook post. “Now is the time to spread facts, not rumors and misinformation.”
Police officers will only stop drivers for traffic violations or on suspicion of other crimes, but random stops are not happening and there isn’t a need to have any documentation from an employer while traveling, police said.
A number of other police departments in the state shared similar messages Wednesday morning. In Green Bay, police told residents they wouldn’t be setting up checkpoints and that officers would still need a valid reason to make a traffic stop.
“We have a procedure in place to review, investigate and deploy resources regarding complaints of violations by businesses or illegal large gatherings,” the department said in a statement.
If police encounter a group of people, officers will ask for voluntary compliance, the departments said.
The Brown County Sheriff’s Office took a report of a person impersonating a police officer and conducting a traffic stop to check the safer-at-home status of the driver. The sheriff’s office will not conduct traffic stops for that reason.
“As always, please be aware of your surroundings and the happenings around you,” the sheriff’s office said.
The Sheboygan Police Department told residents that employers are responsible for telling them whether their businesses are essential. Officers won’t stop anyone to determine whether they needed to be away from home, the department said.
“We as a community will get through this, but we have to work together and stay at home when not engaged in essential activities,” the department said in a statement.
The Wausau Police Department also told residents they wouldn’t be pulled over and don’t need any sort of documentation to leave home.
“You may be thinking, ‘How is this being enforced?’ Good question,” the department said. “Our sincere hope is that voluntary compliance will reign. In the rare instance that our officers need to step in, they will seek to gain that voluntary compliance.”
The safer-at-home order, though, is enforceable by police and could “result in jail time and/or a fine,” the department said.