Sheriff David Clarke: Miserable Failure.

I know I’m biased, but I honestly believe David Clarke has been a miserable failure as Sheriff of Milwaukee County. This is a man who, during his tenure in office, has done more to alienate the rank and file members of the Sheriff’s Department than any of his predecessors, a fact that isn’t surprising given his penchant for calling his subordinates “losers” and “dumb,” and putting aside his lack of any kind of leadership qualities, he hasn’t really done much to fix that which is wrong with the Sheriff’s Department. This is also the same man who time and time again blames his subordinates whenever there’s a problem at the jail, leading me to conclude Sheriff Clarke’s obviously not a believer in Harry Truman’s philosophy that “The Buck Stops Here.” As Sheriff, he should take some responsibility for how the jail is operated, because that is one of his mandates as Sheriff, yet time and time again he deflects any blame off himself and on to the deputies and corrections officers that work under him, ostensibly because he’s more concerned about his own political future than he is about doing what’s right for the Sheriff’s Department – and not just David Clarke.

After all, how can anyone forget the absolute failure that was the GRIP program, Sheriff Clarke’s vaunted – but ultimately ineffective – program for taking guns off Milwaukee’s streets. I sure haven’t forgotten GRIP, because it was largely due to the GRIP program that deputies in the field were sent on a fool’s errand instead that yielded little in the way of actual results, while creating holes in coverage throughout the county.

As I’ve said, I’m not fan of David Clarke, but that’s because I don’t consider him much of a lawman. After all, how can anyone respect a Sheriff whose “plan” for reducing crime in Milwaukee consists of:

  • Send folks to church
  • Get them more money
  • School uniforms for kids

Noticeably absent from that list? Any mention of specific law enforcement strategies to deal with crime in Milwaukee. There’s no mention of putting more deputies onto our streets and highways, and there’s no mention of partnering with other law enforcement agencies in Milwaukee County to work collaboratively to combat crime. If this is what passes for Sheriff David Clarke’s “plan” for making Milwaukee safer, then perhaps I should run for Sheriff, because I’m sure I can come up with a comparably detailed and comprehensive “plan” in about five minutes.


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1 thought on “Sheriff David Clarke: Miserable Failure.

  1. By JESSICA McBRIDE January 19, 2008

    Dear District Attorney Brad Schimel,
    My husband won’t be thrilled that I wrote this column. It deals with his old office, so it’s awkward. He thinks you’re a good guy. I do, too. Please don’t assume my opinions reflect his. My opinions are my own only.

    I once saw you at a cop’s retirement party. You seemed comfortable there. You were the law enforcement candidate in the district attorney’s race, not the glib politician. I like that about you. I think you’ve got the potential to be an excellent DA because you’ve got a lot of integrity.

    However, it’s my job to write about the goings-on in Waukesha County. So, I must ask: What’s going on?

    I recognize that the media will praise you for not doing things conservatives like. I also recognize it’s not your job to do things conservatives like.

    However, I was hoping you wouldn’t go easy on illegal immigrant criminals, drug offenders and sneaky Jim Doyle campaign attorneys, while suddenly getting all bothered by Scott Jensen. I didn’t expect pro-marijuana Web sites would heap praise on you during your first year in office.

    I know you’re bound by the law, not politics. Even so, some of your decisions baffle me.

    You were quoted in the newspaper recently pushing for Jensen’s criminal case to remain in Dane County (he’s filed a court motion seeking to change the venue to Waukesha County.) The Capital Times subsequently praised you. You stated you were working with the attorney general’s office to keep the trial in Dane. Shouldn’t you guys be working together to make sure Jensen gets a fair trial, which – news flash – is not going to happen in Dane? You might as well advocate that Ahab prosecute Moby Dick.

    You told the Madison reporters that you knew little about the case except what was in the newspaper, so why weigh in now? Please read the investigative documents that came out during Jensen’s first trial (Don’t go by what you read in most newspapers. They barely covered them). After plowing through the actual reports, I came to believe that the Jensen prosecution was selective and unfair. The Democratic DA’s own investigative reports show he had the goods on numerous Democrats, yet he didn’t charge them. And that’s just for starters.

    If you don’t like political prosecutions – and you haven’t been a very political DA so far – then you shouldn’t be OK with what happened to Jensen because it was the personification of a political prosecution. I’m not asking that you, ironically, make a political decision here yourself. I just wish that, if given the chance, you’d embrace the opportunity to review this case with a fresh eye and, if you see evidence of unfairness, you’d correct it. This is a case crying out for another prosecutor’s eye.

    You also withdrew Waukesha County’s request to get federal immigration enforcement authority, even though your support for the request remains on your campaign Web site. The program would have made Waukesha County a nationwide model for dealing with illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

    I acknowledge the sheriff and police chief pulled their support first, and federal immigration officials promised to move faster to detain illegal immigrants suspected of committing crimes. The problem is that no one – including the feds – is systematically tracking which criminal defendants in our county are illegal immigrants.

    There was no reason to rescind this – pleasing the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board doesn’t count – and every reason to do it. The head of the top Latino social service agency in town even supported the plan (a fact the media largely ignored). The authority would have been narrowly tailored to empower local cops to detain and identify illegal immigrants WHO COMMIT CRIMES.

    How many illegal immigrants are in the criminal justice system right now? If you can answer that question, call me. I’ll run the number next week.

    If you can’t, please reconsider. This is about public safety. For those who think illegal immigration is only a national issue, I have three words: Frame Park rapist.

    You also took a pass at making a case against Michael Maistelman, the governor’s campaign attorney who was shamelessly firing off e-mails to the state Elections Board before it destroyed Mark Green’s campaign.

    Aggressive prosecutors can go down in flames occasionally (Georgia Thompson), but they also uphold an important societal line by taking tough cases. Give me the principled, aggressive prosecutor any day over the too-cautious one (McCann).

    You next advocated for decriminalizing marijuana. This got you praised on the Madison Web site of a group advocating against “marijuana prohibition.” You were quoted as saying lots of people have tried marijuana and “times have changed.”

    That’s why we shouldn’t decriminalize the drug.

    Soon after, it was reported that authorities seized more marijuana in Waukesha County than the previous eight years combined, a record.

    DA Schimel, I want you to succeed. This is constructive criticism, not a personal attack.

    But I feel like Cher in “Moonstruck” right now: “Snap out of it”!


    Jessica McBride

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