A Michigan sheriff announced Monday that his office will not enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) stay-at-home order implemented due to the Chinese coronavirus outbreak, as residents and lawmakers continue to accuse the governor of infringing on civil liberties.
Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole wrote in a statement shared to Facebook that he decided against enforcing the order after receiving copious calls from concerned residents. He also said he based his decision on state lawmakers opting against extending the state of emergency beyond April 30 “as required by law.”
“The legality of that is a judicial branch determination,” BeGole said. He added:
With limited resources, staffing and facilities, our priority focus will be on enforcing duly passed laws for the protection of Shiawassee County citizens. I have decided, within my authority, that our office cannot and will not divert our primary resources and efforts towards enforcement of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders.
The development comes after the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate sued Whitmer after she circumvented the legislature to extend the state of emergency declaration, alleging that the order is improper and invalid under state law.
“Only the Legislature has the power to extend the state of emergency,” House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) said last week.
Whitmer has been accused of taking draconian measures during the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in 47,000 confirmed cases and over 4,500 deaths in Michigan. On Monday, a judge denied a motion made by the governor’s administration that a 77-year-old Owosso barber shut down his shop due to the outbreak.
Earlier in April, Whitmer, who is under consideration to be former Vice President Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick, made headlines when she accused Michigan’s lockdown protesters of depicting “some of the worst racism” in America’s history.
BeGole’s announcement also comes as a handful of Pennsylvania counties say they plan to begin reopening, regardless of Gov. Tom Wolf ‘s (D) lockdown order.