Sheriff McLean: Challenges facing Cafe Rosetta are civil matters, not criminal

Daily Mining Gazette, file Houghton County Sheriff Brian McLean responded Monday to a rally held Saturday in front of the Houghton County Court House in support of businesses reopening fully.

HOUGHTON — Sheriff Brian McLean said he has received countless emails and telephone calls from concerned citizens as a result of information given at a rally in Houghton Saturday.

The rally was, according to speaker Erik Kiilunen, organizer of the group “All Business is Essential,” to show support for the owners of Cafe Rosetta, located in Calumet, and to publicly thank the sheriff and his department.

“We thought it appropriate that we would reach out to Brian McLean and our Sheriff’s Department,” said Kiilunen, “and thank them for not enforcing any of the mandates that have been placed on us by our governor from Lansing. So, Brian, thank you very much. Undersheriff Coppo, thank you very much.

“We’re here to encourage you today to actually go public and put on a piece of paper, saying that all our businesses can open up without fear of retribution from the state.”

While the crowd of approximately 1,000 people cheered the words, McLean on Monday responded, saying there was a lot of misinformation exchanged during the rally, including what he, as sheriff, actually said.

McLean said he has spoken with Kiilunen in the past, telling him that yes, he is sympathetic to his plight and he wishes him the best.

“I think the whole Copper Country should get to open,” McLean said, “but I don’t get to make the rules.”

In responding to a statement uttered at the rally that the sheriff can order the Michigan State Police to not take action in the county, McLean said while there is a popular notion that county sheriffs have the constitutional right to forbid state police from any action within the county, it is in fact, not true.

“There seems to be an old wives’ tale that goes back years and years — people say: ‘Yeah, the county sheriff can kick the state police right out of the county,'” he said. “Why would I do that? There’s not enough of us to cover the county now!”

McLean said people get caught up in a concept of a constitutional sheriff’s office, where the sheriff is the supreme commander.

“I am the supreme commander — for my agency,” said McLean, “just like John Donnelly is the supreme commander of his agency.”

Donnelly is the chief of the Houghton City Police Department.

McLean said that one point he wants to make clear to everyone is that law enforcement agents are constitutionalists, in accordance with their oaths.

“We swear an oath to the Constitution, every time we take office,” he said, “to support and do that, but we don’t go overboard with it.”

Over the weekend, McLean said he has been “flamed” countless times in social media posts, and in emails, in the past as well as a result of rally speeches Saturday.

“Those who ask, I reply ‘I’m glad you’re at least asking,'” he said, “because you can’t always believe everything you hear and everything you read. If you’re not sure, go to the source and ask.”

In reference to the controversy surrounding the Cafe Rosetta in Calumet, McLean said the challenges facing the restaurant and its owners are rules and regulations through the state of Michigan and its licensing agencies, such as the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and the Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

“These are rule violations,” McLean explained, “they’re not laws. We have no jurisdiction over enforcing those. The statute that they’re using to close them down(Cafe Rosetta) is under the Public Health Code, which clearly reads that the Department of Public Health will investigate, and will report, and will seek injunctions from the courts. So, it’s all in their courts.”

McLean said deputies from his agency have gone to the cafe, conducting what is referred to as a Civil Standby, and have been criticized for showing up there with the Health Dept., but we went at their request, to make sure their worker was not assaulted and they could do their job. We were there just to keep the peace, and I told Erik that we would go there if he requested us, and we would be there if he thought he was going to get beat up or had a problem.”

McLean said his department represents everybody, they do it all the time, but his department has no authority over the Cafe Rosetta’s issues.

“These issues are a civil matter,” he said, “and the Sheriff’s Office has no jurisdiction over it. Even the injunction comes out of a court in Lansing.”

Under those circumstances, he said, someone from Ingham County Court or someone at the state level will have enforce it, or serve whatever order it may be. It is not an arrest warrant, and so the police cannot become involved unless a crime is committed.


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