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Racine County DA's Office issues guidance for law enforcement, public health officials
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SAFER AT HOME

Racine County DA's Office issues guidance for law enforcement, public health officials

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RACINE COUNTY — The Racine County District Attorney’s Office issued guidance Wednesday for how law enforcement officers and public health officials should enforce Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order.

The document lays out the arrest, referral and charging procedures that should be followed during the public health emergency.

The District Attorney’s Office directs law enforcement officers and public health officials to work together to tackle violations, which include not following the “Stay At Home” order, unauthorized entry into isolation or quarantined premises, interfering with health official investigations, not reporting cases of COVID-19 to health departments or not following health department orders and willfully subjecting others to the danger of COVID-19.

“The nature of this emergency makes it difficult to quickly adopt local ordinances that conform with state statute 252 public health violations,” the document states. “It is still possible to cite individuals for violation of disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer, as all jurisdictions currently have the power to issue citations for those offenses.”

Like current procedures, law enforcement officers may choose to refer a case to the District Attorney’s Office. Public health officers may also ask law enforcement in the municipality where the violation occurred to refer a case to the DA’s office.

Violations would be punished by a maximum penalty of 30 days incarceration and/or a $500 fine, according to the document.

“Regardless of whether the case is referred, law enforcement agencies must inform the district attorney about the arrest,” the document states. “The purpose of the contact is to keep a list of cases for the entire county for data tracking.”

Offenders, however, may be quarantined by public health officials before decisions are made whether to arrest or charge. In that case, a person still has a right to challenge his or her confinement and may obtain an attorney.

“The overriding goal of these crimes is not to punish offenders but to foster voluntary compliance with public health actions such as quarantine and isolation orders,” the document states. “Voluntary compliance, in turn, mitigates against the spread of COVID-19 so that the health care system will not be overwhelmed.”

“COVID-19 is a serious infectious disease that poses great risk to vulnerable populations, but it is neither infectious nor deadly enough to justify strict punishment and criminal enforcement for every infraction against public health law,” the document states.

“COVID-19 is a serious infectious disease that poses great risk to vulnerable populations, but it is neither infectious nor deadly enough to justify strict punishment and criminal enforcement for every infraction against public health law.” Directive from the Racine County District Attorney’s Office

"COVID-19 is a serious infectious disease that poses great risk to vulnerable populations, but it is neither infectious nor deadly enough to justify strict punishment and criminal enforcement for every infraction against public health law."

Directive from the Racine County District Attorney's Office

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Alyssa Mauk covers breaking news and courts. She enjoys spending time with her family, video games, heavy metal music, watching YouTube videos, comic books and movies.

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