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4 Michigan sheriffs say they will not be strictly enforcing Whitmer's stay at home order

Sheriffs in Benzie, Manistee, Mason and Leelanau counties called Whitmer's orders "vague" and said she was "over-stepping" her authority.
Credit: WZZM
Michigan sheriff's department logo.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Four northern Michigan sheriffs said they would not be strictly enforcing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay at home order.

The four sheriffs, from Benzie, Manistee, Mason and Leelanau counties, called Whitmer's orders "vague" and in a joint press release on Wednesday, April 15 said she was "overstepping" her executive authority. The sheriffs, Ted Schendel, Ken Falk, Kim Cole ad Mike Borkovich, said they were the "last line of defense" in protecting the people's civil liberties. 

According to the press release, the sheriffs planned on using "common sense" and assess each alleged violation individually.

“We write today to inform the public of our respective counties of our opposition to some of Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders," the statement shared Wednesday said.

“While we understand her desire to protect the public, we question some restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority. She has created a vague framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan citizens.”

The four counties make up Michigan's 101st House District. Collectively they have 21 cases of coronavirus. 

Last week, the governor extended the Stay Home, Stay Safe order until May 1 and placed even tighter restrictions on grocery stores and residents to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. The move spurred criticism from residents and even a lawsuit against the governor to get the order lifted or revised. 

On Friday, April 17 Whitmer appeared on Good Morning America and said she hopes to relax some of the coronavirus limitations and open things back up by May 1, but she acknowledge things are still in a flux.

"I do hope to have some relaxing come May 1," Whitmer said to George Stephanopoulos Friday morning. "But it's two weeks away and the information and the data and our ability to test is changing so rapidly it's hard to tell precisely where we'll be in a week from now much less two."

Stephanopoulos also asked the governor about her response to these four sheriffs. 

"Four sheriffs out of 83 sheriffs, making a point, that's fine," Whitmer said. "All I ask is let's not get overly political here. Let's focus on the public health."

Whitmer said all of the orders she has issued have been to protect Michigan's 10 million residents, and she recognizes the obstacles and struggles they have created as a result. 

"Each one of these weighs heavily; there's a price that's paid. I know that there are a lot of businesses and people that are hurting right now. But the fact of the matter is, it's better to be six feet apart right now than six feet under. And that is the whole point of this. We've got to save lives," Whitmer said. 

Earlier this week, a couple thousand people protested Whitmer's order at the Capitol downtown Lansing. A few hours after the rally, Whitmer addressed what she saw, saying she understood people's frustration and anger. Michigan is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic -- more than one million residents have filed for unemployment and small business owners are feeling the heat as closures continue. However, the demonstration could lead to more cases of the virus. 

"The sad irony here is that the protests were that they don't like being in this stay at home order. And they may have just created a need to lengthen it, which is something that we're trying to avoid at all costs," Whitmer said.


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