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‘Bridge too far’: Michigan sheriffs push back against Gov Whitmer for ‘overstepping’ her authority

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Four Michigan sheriffs have vowed to not “strictly” enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s increasingly oppressive coronavirus shutdown measures, citing their oath to both protect every resident’s “God-given rights” and “defend the Michigan Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution.”

“As Sheriffs of Michigan’s 101st House district, comprised of Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, and Mason Counties, we write today to inform the public of our respective counties of our opposition to some of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders,” the four wrote in a joint letter released Wednesday.

“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. As a result, we will not have strict enforcement of these orders. We will deal with every case as an individual situation and apply common sense in assessing the apparent violation.”

Speaking on Fox News late Thursday, one of the sheriffs, Kim Cole of Mason County, pointed to the preponderance of what could arguably be described as stupid, wasteful 911 calls as just one justification for why this move was necessary.

“One of the issues we’ve been having is people calling 911 or calling our office and saying, ‘Hey, my neighbor should only have two cars in their driveway but they have three, and we need you to go over and check license plate numbers and go to the door, check IDs, make sure the addresses on the IDs are matching the address where you’re at, and if they’re not, then you need to tell people to leave,'” he said.

And I think that’s a bridge too far. We’re being asked to go on people’s private property on anonymous tips and remove people from homes, and I think that’s a bridge too far.”

Sheriff Cole also pushed back against critics — including a reportedly “snarky lawyer”– who’ve argued the sheriffs “don’t have the right to refuse to follow the orders of the chief executive of the state and keep their jobs.”

“Well, I’m elected by the citizens of Mason County, not a particular attorney,” he said before going on to read his department’s mission statement.

“The mission of the Mason County Sheriff’s Office is to enforce the laws in the state of Michigan and to protect the innocent from those who violate those laws by diligent traffic enforcement, thorough criminal investigation and by humane incarceration of those sentenced by the court,” he said.

“The power and authority of the sheriff to accomplish this mission derives from the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the state of Michigan. It does not come from a city charter, a governor, a judge or a president — it comes from “we the people.” So I’m elected by the people of Mason County, and they can have a decision as to whether or not they want me to be the sheriff for the next four years after this term is up.”

Listen to his remarks below via FNC’s “Fox News @ Night“:


(Source: Fox News)

Push-back against the governor has been brewing since she enacted a stay-at-home order on March 24. At the time, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police chair Bob Stevenson, a retired Livonia police chief, predicted there would be no arrests over “non-essential” businesses continuing to function, in spite of Whitmer’s ban.

“I know there’s a lot of confusion out there, but as far as I know, the local chiefs are not going to be getting involved in determining who is and who is not essential personnel,”  he told Bridge Magazine. “I mean, it’s not our order.”

While initially slated to expire on April 13, the governor’s order has since been extended to April 30. And just this past weekend Whitmer further expanded it by initiating a ban on residents visiting their family members or friends.

It’s not just sheriffs who’ve been fighting back — so have citizens. In a widely publicized protest at the state capital this Tuesday, thousands of Michigan residents expressed their frustration with Whitmer and her one-size-fits-all policies.

“Let’s start with the fact that some counties have no or very few COVID cases and yet are totally shut down,” Rosanne Ponkowski, the president of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which organized the protest, reportedly said in a statement.

“When did a one-size solution solve everyone’s local issues? Governor Whitmer will put you out of business before allowing mere citizens to be responsible for their own behavior. That is madness.”

“Roughly a quarter of Michigan’s eligible workforce is now trying to obtain unemployment aid, according to local officials, a staggering example of the economic carnage wrought by the coronavirus,” The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Except that the spike in unemployment hasn’t been caused by the coronavirus but rather by Whitmer’s response to the deadly — but reportedly not THAT deadly — disease.

Vivek Saxena

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