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Northern Michigan democrats criticize sheriffs for not enforcing ‘stay at home’ order

Traverse City Record-Eagle

The Benzie and Leelanau County Democratic parties say sheriffs up north made a mistake by undermining Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ‘stay at home’ order.

In a press release on April 15, sheriffs of Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties said the order is confusing and they won’t strictly enforce it.

“Our focus needs to be on reopening our counties and getting people back to work,” the press release reads. “Allowing those without paychecks back to work is imperative to the economic success and wellbeing of our community.”

Co-chair of the Leelanau County Democratic Party Barb Conley says that message will only lead to more confusion and put more people at risk.

“Selectively enforcing the order gives nobody a clearer idea of what they’re going to enforce and what they’re not,” Conley said.

Democrats in Benzie County also criticized the move, saying the county prosecutor and Michigan Attorney General should investigate whether the sheriff’s statement was within their legal authority.

“The sheriff should know that such behavior could submit him and the county to serious legal and financial liability,” their statement reads. “We urge the sheriff to withdraw this anti-science, anti-public safety policy before it causes immense damage, pain, heartbreak, expense, and death in the county we love.”

Frustration over the order led to protests at the state capitol earlier this week.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.