Empower Wisconsin | March 31, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul’s office is seeking information from local law enforcement officials about their contacts with individuals supposedly breaking Gov. Tony Evers’ orders on sheltering at home and practicing social distancing.
An email sent late last week from the Wisconsin State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) was titled, “COVID-19 Non-Compliance Data Call.” The agency says it’s seeking data from all law enforcement departments related to “non-compliance of the Governor’s Safer at Home Executive Order.”
“The purpose of the data call is to improve situational awareness related to the effectiveness of the Governor’s Executive Order in increasing social distancing around the state,” notes the email, obtained by Empower Wisconsin. “The data will aid in public health planning and decision-making as we continue to respond to COVID-19.”
Jennifer Price, director of Special Operations in the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation, did not return a call seeking comment.
Sources tell Empower Wisconsin that law enforcement officials are supposed to report the reason for the stops they make, where the person stopped was walking or traveling and for what reason.
“Sounds like Big Brother might be looking to further convince us to stay home,” one source said.
Police have said they are not not randomly stopping people during the coronavirus crisis.
“MYTH – Officers are stopping motorists to ask for ‘papers’ and to determine where the motorist is going,” the Appleton Police wrote last week on their Facebook page. “Random stops to check on the purpose of travel are not occurring.”
Police, however, say they continue to act on complaints that “nonessential” businesses continue to operate and that individuals are violating restrictions on multiple people gathering and social distancing.
And state government health officials on Monday said that the next two weeks will be critical in diminishing “the curve” of the COVID-19 outbreak.
What happens in the coming days “is going to determine what curve looks likes,” they said during a teleconference with the press. That means a greater emphasis on making sure residents are following the Evers administration orders.