NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WBAY) - Local police departments are trying to quell rumors that officers are pulling people over and asking them for credentials during Wisconsin's "Safer at Home" order.
The "Safer at Home" order is in effect until April 24. It's meant to restrict non-essential business and travel during the coronavirus outbreak. It does not require IDs or badges to travel in the state.
"Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home," says Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. "Similarly, if a business is an Essential Business or Operation as defined in this order, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order."
There is NO CURFEW IN WISCONSIN.
The Brown and Marinette county sheriff's offices are both investigating reports of police impostors taking advantage of the governor's order to stop people and ask for their papers or work permits (see related story.
Neenah Police are working to get the word out that officers ARE NOT PULLING PEOPLE OVER.
"Rumor control! As you might have heard, there are RUMORS going around that police officers are pulling people over & asking them to produce credentials & documentation showing they are on "essential" travel," Neenah Police posted on social media. "THIS IS NOT TRUE! We'll say it again for the people in the back: THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! Please share this post so we can really spread the word. Thank you & stay safe!"
Rumor control! There are RUMORS going around that police officers are pulling people over & asking for documentation that they're on "essential" travel. THIS IS NOT TRUE! Once more: THIS IS NOT TRUE! Please retweet & spread the word. Thank you & stay safe!— Neenah Police (@NeenahPolice) March 25, 2020
BROWN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
The Brown County Sheriff's Office took two reports of someone impersonating a police officer and conducting a traffic stop to check if the person is "in compliance."
One of those turned out to be false.
The Sheriff's Office posted this message on Facebook Thursday:
"So, much like there are laws and penalties against impersonating a police officer, there are also laws and penalties against filing a false police report. After further investigation, our officers discovered the second report of the police impersonator which occurred in Allouez was a false report.
"People, these are chaotic enough times! Our societal norms are being challenged, our health and safety is being compromised, people are afraid...for anyone to take advantage of our current climate to instigate even more fear is incredibly disheartening!!
"Our officers are working incredibly hard to serve the citizens of our community. We pride ourselves on being professionals and building a foundation of trust with the public. Those who impersonate officers are making our jobs more difficult. Those who are reporting false crimes are taking our attention away from those who need it. Both are punishable and will be treated as such."
They continue to investigate the first report of an impersonator:
"Be advised, Brown County WILL NOT be conducting compliance checks for this reason. As always, please be aware of your surroundings and the happenings around you. If you observe suspicious activities, report it to your local authority," reads a statement from the Brown County Sheriff's Office.
"In regard to the report of someone impersonating an officer in conducting a Safer at Home traffic stop, the Sheriff's Office is looking for assistance in identifying the following:
WHITE MALE IN HIS 30'S WITH A SHORT BROWN BEARD WEARING A GREEN UNIFORM AND BLACK BALL CAP WITH NO INSIGNIA. HE HAD A NAME PLATE READING ABRAHAM, HAD A MIC CLIPPED TO THE FRONT OF HIS SHIRT AND A CLIP LIGHT ON HIS BALL CAP. HE WAS DRIVING A DARK BLUE OR BLACK CHEV IMPALA WITH NO MARKINGS, THE VEHICLE DID HAVE RED AND BLUE LIGHTS ALONG THE WINDSHIELD
This incident happened in the southern part of Brown County. Anyone having information re: this is asked to call the non-emergency number 920-391-7450 or Crime Stoppers at 920-432-STOP."
The false report was made 4 o'clock Wednesday morning. A person entering a convenience store on Webster Ave. in Allouez said they were approached by a man in his 30's wearing some type of police uniform that didn't have a patch or identify their agency. Referencing the governor's order, he asked for the woman's papers. She said she didn't have any, and the man left. Again, that report turned out to be fake.
GREEN BAY POLICE
"You do NOT need a letter from your employer to be able to drive. If you were given one, hang onto it but it is NOT required," says the Green Bay Police Department.
The department says people should know the following:
• We will not be setting up checkpoints of any kind.
• We are not randomly stopping vehicles to determine the occupants’ reason for travel based on the Safer at Home Order. Officers still have to have a valid reason for a traffic stop. Policing Constitutionally is not negotiable.
• We have a procedure in place to review, investigate, and deploy resources regarding complaints of violations by businesses or illegal large gatherings.
• There is no new curfew. The juvenile nighttime curfew that has been in effect for years is still in effect. Juveniles need to be home by 10:00 pm.
• If we come into contact with a group of people (10+) we will ask for voluntary compliance and for the group to disperse.
• If we respond to a business that is not essential, we educate the owner and ask for voluntary compliance.
• Officers have the discretion to charge violators through the Brown County District Attorney Office for Safer at Home Order violations.
"Employees do not need a letter from their employer to drive back and forth from work. Thank you for your support and voluntary cooperation. Stay safe and healthy."
"MYTH - Officers stopping random motorists to ask for 'papers' or to check on travel destination.
FACT - Officers will stop motorists for traffic violations or for suspicion of a crime. No 'papers', other than a license and insurance paperwork, are required."
MYTH - Officers stopping random motorists to ask for "papers" or to check on travel destination.— Appleton Police (@AppletonPD_WI) March 25, 2020
FACT - Officers will stop motorists for traffic violations or for suspicion of a crime. No "papers", other than a license and insurance paperwork, are required. pic.twitter.com/wgdDLuRyxc
FOX CROSSING POLICE
"There are rumors going around that citizens traveling within their own communities will be stopped by police and required to produce credentials or documentation showing that they are on 'essential' travel.
This is false information!"
There are rumors going around that citizens traveling within their own communities will be stopped by police and required to produce credentials or documentation showing that they are on “essential” travel.— Fox Crossing Police (@FoxCrossingPD) March 25, 2020
This is false information! pic.twitter.com/206cFebdVp