Several Michigan sheriffs say they won’t enforce Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders

‘Slippery slope,’ AG says

Several sheriffs in have publicly stated they will not enforce parts of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus (COVID-19) Executive Orders

LANSING – Several sheriffs have publicly stated they will not enforce parts of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus (COVID-19) Executive Orders.

VIEW: A timeline of closures, event bans, stay-at-home orders

Attorney General Dana Nessel spoke with Local 4 about what it means when law enforcement refuse to enforce the law.

RELATED: 'We question some restrictions’: Northern Michigan sheriffs say they won’t strictly enforce COVID-19 Executive Orders

Oakland County, Livingston County and Shiawasee County Sheriffs have said in one form or the other they will not enforce the executive order. Whether it’s for a barbershop or a gym opening illegally, or allowing golfers to golf before it was legal. Nessel said the inaction embolden criminal acts.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard was one of the first to publicly declare he would not enforce the executive order when it came to golf courses. The Livingston County Sheriff said the same when it came to a small independent Gym in Brighton.

READ: Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard clarifies position on enforcement of Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Orders

The Sheriff of Shiawassee County sent a news release earlier this week, putting his intentions in writing that he would not be enforcing the law.

Nessel said it’s the sheriffs are setting a dangerous precedent for law enforcement.

“It’s a slippery slope when you have law enforcement officials who arbitrarily choose the laws they will and will not enforce,” Nessel said.

Nessel said she’s disturbed by what she sees as political motivation to ignore an oath that is taken to keep the peace and enforce the laws, and as the elected gatekeepers of the law, Sherrif’s are not judges or juries, they are law keepers.

While she said that law enforcers do have some discretion, deciding to knock a speeding ticket down from 15 miles over to 5 for instance, this is something else entirely.

“I will tell you that one of my big concerns is that people with anti-government sentiments are using this as a hook,” Nessel said. “I think it’s bad that these law enforcers have abdicated their responsibilities. I would urge them to reconsider. This virus knows no County lines.”

Nessel said she has no plans to seek action against sheriffs for the time being.

“You hold them accountable at the ballot box,” Nessel said.

About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's married and the stepmother of three beautiful and brilliant daughters. Her personal philosophy in life, love and community is, "Do as much as you can possibly do, not as little as you can possibly get away with".

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.