Journal Sentinel Editorial Board: You just can’t take Sheriff David Clarke seriously

On Tuesday, the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a scathing (and that’s probably an understatement) editorial about Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. Consider how “in the bag” the Journal Sentinel has been for conservatives in Wisconsin over the years, this editorial is can’t be seen as anything but a complete rebuke of Sheriff Clarke and the lie that he makes any meaningful contribution to efforts to fight crime in Milwaukee County.

A wholesale suspension of plea bargains isn’t an answer; it’s a political cheap shot in an election year.

As Chisholm pointed out in his letter, suspending these tools would be “legally, ethically and practically irresponsible” — an idea that would clog the courts, the jails and prisons, violate the right to a speedy trial for defendants and drive up costs in the criminal justice system.

Clarke, a former Milwaukee cop, knows all of this, so we presume that his broadside was nothing more than empty rhetoric — as Chisholm suggests, “election-year politics” from the sheriff who will stand for re-election in the Democratic primary in August. Whatever his motivation, rhetoric is all that Clarke has left.

Chisholm noted that Clarke’s “agency does not investigate homicides, nor does it have the capacity to do so after long years of neglect at your hands.” Chisholm made the same observation about domestic violence cases. He also was critical of Clarke’s decision to disband the department’s gun and drug investigation and witness protection units, and he noted Clarke’s decision to waste resources by having deputies watch private guards check courthouse visitors when they could be doing something more productive. Kremers was equally as pointed in his letter to Clarke, saying the sheriff is frequently uncooperative. Basically, Kremers is saying that Clarke has checked out.

In their letters, Chisholm and Kremers write that they are open to having, as Chisholm put it, a “mutually agreeable outside academic entity come study our practices.”

We think such a study might have merit if all parties are serious. As we said, there are legitimate questions that arise when a child is gunned down on a playground. The public deserves answers to those questions, but they must be thoughtful answers, not canned talking points.

We’re guessing that Clarke isn’t serious in this case because he hardly ever is serious about anything. And he’s proven time and again that he isn’t thoughtful.

For years, we have hoped that Clarke would grow into the job of sheriff. Now, it appears that he has — by making both himself and the job smaller.


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