Sheriff David Clarke: more grandstander than lawman

On Friday, Milwaukee County Sheriff (and general laughingstock) David Clarke released a new public service announcement advocating for residents of Milwaukee County to arm themselves because 9-1-1 is no longer their best option. Here’s the PSA:

I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal…your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport; I need you in the game, but are you ready? With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 9-1-1 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back; but are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?

In response to Clarke’s PSA, Chris Moews, who challenged Sheriff David Clarke in the 2010 Democratic primary for Milwaukee County Sheriff and is currently preparing to run again in 2014, issued a statement criticizing Clarke’s call for citizen vigilantism.

“Despite the way our Sheriff carries himself, Milwaukee County is not the Wild West and telling citizens to arm themselves is not an appropriate public safety strategy,” said Moews. “The only law enforcement official who would ever recommend this as a crime-fighting policy is one who has failed to do his own job.”

Moews also noted the rift between Sheriff Clarke and County Executive Chris Abele regarding the Sheriff Department’s budget.

“A real leader is someone who has temperament,” said Moews. “The Sheriff should not be using the public airwaves with taxpayer money to complain about the budget he was given. He needs to find better ways to manage his department, not use theatrics that instill fear in our neighbors. A real Sheriff would lead a collaborative effort with the community to develop substantive solutions, not encourage vigilantism.”

What I find curious is Clarke’s statement urging citizens to arm themselves so they can defend themselves until “we” get there. Surely the “we” Clarke is referencing can’t be the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, because the last time I checked the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office under David Clarke wasn’t the first line of defense for Milwaukee County citizens who need law enforcement assistance.

David D. Haynes characterized David Clarke best in an op-ed for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when he called Clarke a grandstander first and a lawman second.


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27 thoughts on “Sheriff David Clarke: more grandstander than lawman

  1. “the last time I checked the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office under David Clarke wasn’t the first line of defense for Milwaukee County citizens who need law enforcement assistance.”

    Nice catch.

    Journal Sentinel understandably has a lot of respect for the polling ability of their DC correspondent, Craig Gilbert. Guns is just one of many issues on which he’s done a lot of work and I’m sure his polling research drives where their editors and reporters “straddle,” a lot of their content.

    “Key dividing lines on guns”

    If the JS’ editorial page (not George Stanley’s News division), is so directly criticizing the Sheriff, his campaign staff should be very concerned. They clearly feel as though they can call him a “grandstander,” yet not risk losing wingnut subscribers. It also may suggest that the News division has dirt on the Sheriff that’s not yet been published.

    IANAL, but I wonder if in defending their clients, attorneys will make use of the the Sheriff’s public statements. If this is really deemed a “PSA,” does it have some “official” standing as Milwaukee County policy?

    Interesting that this aired on Vickie McKenna’s WISN show, but not on Charlie Sykes’ WTMJ. Wonder if TMJ turned it down?

    Next time he runs, it will be interesting to see how much money folks who provide “certified” training donate. Who decides what training is “certified?”

    Suppose someone working in a pizza/Chinese food restaurant (any place that delivers food) takes down the address wrong? Through no fault of their own, the delivery driver knocks on the wrong door. The person inside the house isn’t expecting someone to be banging on their front door. Recalling the Sheriff’s PSA, thinking 911 will not arrive in time, they use their AR-15 to pump high velocity rounds through the front door. Those kill the delivery driver and may kill/wound anyone in the trajectory for blocks. According to Sheriff Clarke, can the D.A. prosecute the person who took down the address under “reckless endangerment,” or “depraved indifference” statutes? Who is held accountable for the death of the delivery driver?

  2. GREAT example of the Pizza Guy! In Green Bay, we just had a guy kill his girl friend with his bare hands! Yup, beat her to a bloody pulp before calling the Sheriff to report a “terrible accident.” Thank goodness the Sheriff got there before the Pizza Guy!

    Only weenies like you (and the JS Editorial Board) pump rounds into a door – and wildly down the street. Trained, certified (i.e. GOVERNMENT registered and GOVERNMENT approved) law-abiding people have good sense, good aim and don’t have weird gun fantasies. Get off the crack pipe, fellas.

    PS: Ammo is expensive; we never just pump. We wait ’till they come in and then, let ’em have it. Tell GrandMaster Clarke to keep it up.

    1. Dweller, ammo is expensive if you’re dumb enough to buy retail. Can’t make your own? Can’t find someone who can?

  3. Sheriff David Clarke is right on Target. WE THE PEOPLE are the first responders on the issue of personal safety. In his heart your Mayor knows that, but since he is a Progressive he has to go against common sense (or has none). Hang in there sheriff. We are behind you.

    1. Lynn, are Sheriff Clarke’s comments that Milwaukee 911 is insufficient helping Gov. Walker reach his goal of 250,000 new jobs?

    2. Why have police forces then? Who needs them? We all know what to do because we’ve seen it all, right?

      Vigilantism. Shoot first, ask questions later!

  4. It seems to me that Sheriff Clarke just may be the guy that protects his grandaughter from the criminals roaming our streets. It’s a shame that so many in our society have lost their natural instinct to protect their family and property. Just leave it to someone else while you hide under the bed. If there were more Americans like Sheriff Clarke we wouldn’t be seeing the type of atrocities that we do

  5. On this issue, Sheriff Clarke’s critics are mis-quoting and/or outright lying about what he said. To say Clarke is advocating vigilantism reveals complete ignorance of the meaning of the word and how it is different from the notion of self-defense which is what the Sheriff talks about.

    Elected officials do PSAs all the time. As the elected Sheriff, it is absolutely within his purview to provide information useful to his constituents. Critics charge this PSA isn’t informational, just grandstanding. I would disagree.

    Zach, in his pursuit to define “we” for the Sheriff, failed to acknowledge the Milwaukee police department as part of the “we” to which the Sheriff was referring. Why did Zach do that? Is it because he is unaware that Mayor Barrett/Chief Flynn instituted 3 furlough days for all of their officers/detectives? Zach, I disagree with you quite a bit, but I wouldn’t normally accuse you of being uninformed. Don’t feel bad, you aren’t the only well-informed blogger who was apparently unaware of MPD’s 2013 furloughs.

    It’s true. Using a conservative figure of 1500 (actual number of MPD cops is higher I believe), that equals 4500 manpower days on furlough or at least 12 officers per day not on the street. Sheriff Clarke was not simply bemoaning his own budgetary woes as much as calling attention to budget cutbacks he believes are detrimental to Milwaukeeans. On this, Barrett/Flynn would prefer Milwaukeeans to be disarmed and in the dark.

    Still want to stubbornly insist this is simple grandstanding? Why is Sheriff Clarke the only elected official held to this “anti-grandstanding” standard? Do you call it grandstanding when politicians clamor for increases in school funding? Not that I’ve seen. So please explain to me why it is wrong for Sheriff Clarke to advocate for his cause?

    @John Casper…your delivery guy analogy is ridiculous, but to answer your question, the resident wildly firing shots through a door simply because someone knocked on it would be held accountable, and rightly so. Nothing in Clarke’s PSA advocates such behavior…get a grip.

    1. Roland, what if Sheriff Clarke did a PSA advocating the legalization of marijuana, a textbook example of “job-killing-government-regulations. The Sheriff could add that he’s not encouraging anyone to use it, he’s just acknowledging that the prohibition of alcohol did not work. It would reduce stress up and down the law enforcement supply chain. Properly administered, it would be treated much like alcohol and would generate jobs and tax revenue.

      Would you support that PSA?

      1. Why the need to play these “what if” games, John? Let’s stick to the topic at hand. There’s plenty of substance on this issue, you shouldn’t need to create a straw man.

        1. Roland, you assert without any substantiation that the person “wildly firing through a door,” would be held accountable. “Let’s stick to the topic at hand. There’s plenty of substance….” Please explain why in your opinion that discharge was unlawful.

          1. Good grief…do I really need to “substantiate” the obvious which is anyone who fires gunshots through their front door because someone knocked on it should be held criminally responsible for such reckless behavior?

    2. Roland, since when is Sheriff David Clarke the official spokesman for the Milwaukee Police Department?

      Further, how does his statement about furloughs and layoffs apply to suburban departments who are responsible for responding to 9-1-1 calls within their jurisdictions?

        1. Wow. there’s so much.

          Right after the 2:50 mark he says: “The Mayor is completely wrong. I’m the top law enforcement agency in Milwaukee……”

          Mayor Barrett does a nice job of pointing out the major errors.

  6. Anyone can invent a scenario that ends badly for a defender. The fact is that these scenarios are extremely rare by percentage and many thousands of families successfully defend their homes from robbers,rapists or killers. Problem is you do not hear about it. I hope he does get removed from office. You doth’t deserve him. He can come to my town any day

  7. I agree with Sheriff Clarke 1000%. It is well past time that we stop depending on the “sugar daddy” government, and think/act for ourselves. Of course, every citizen who is willing to carry their own fire arm, should take a weapon safety class. That being said, the best crime prevention, is dead criminals !

  8. Really, Zach? Defending yourself is “citizen vigilantism”? Let’s ask Brittany Zimmerman, who lived 5 blocks from the cop shop in Madison. She called 911. Perhaps the last thing she heard was a dial tone on her hung up call.

    1. If you’ve got a problem with “vigilantism” as the term was used in my entry, I suggest you express your outrage at Chris Moews, who in the press release I cited criticized Sheriff Clarke for encouraging vigilantism. The only time I referred to vigilantism was in reference to Moews’ press release.

      1. Sorry Zach, but you chose to use that term, “citizen vigilantism,” to describe the sheriff’s PSA, you did so without quotation marks, and nowhere do you refute that characterization. You bought it, you own it.

          1. Makisha Cooper is an idiot who spoke and acted like one. Nothing Sheriff Clarke said encouraged Cooper to do what she did. Making Clarke responsible for what she did is dishonest political hackery of the highest order.

            1. Part of the “individual responsibility,” of the Milwaukee County Sheriff is to understand that a large segment of the citizenry did not turn down the chance to attend Medical School.

              Those of us who understand how vital the Second Amendment is, do not want people such as Ms. Cooper owning a firearm. Gun/ammo dealers, however, have taken over the NRA and made it their sales platform.

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