Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Sheriff David Clarke

His radio ads says he needs the help of armed homeowners, but Clarke has almost nothing to do with combating violent crime.

By - Jan 28th, 2013 11:11 am
Sheriff David Clarke

Sheriff David Clarke

Last Friday, Sheriff David Clarke once again triggered a controversy by running a radio ad calling on citizens to arm themselves so they can defend themselves “until we get there.” Personal safety isn’t a spectator sport anymore, and “I need you in the game,” Clarke says.

This morning, Clarke was on CNN defending his ad, and noting that he had to lay off 42 people.

The ad. and Clarke’s reference to layoffs in his department, creates an image of the sheriff as a guy who spends his time combating violent crime perpetrated in neighborhoods and homes. In fact, Clarke and the Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputies he oversees have almost nothing to do with it, as Urban Milwaukee has previously reported.

Listen to Sheriff Clarke’s Ad.

Office of Justice Assistance statistics for the two-year period of 2009-2010 show there were 106,936 violent and property crimes in the county. The Milwaukee Police Department handled 75 percent of those incidents, and most of the rest were handled by suburban police. The sheriffs handled just 57 crimes, or less than one-fifth of one-percent.

In 2009, the sheriff reported only 19 crimes to the FBI, compared to 41,375 for the Milwaukee police, 3,288 for West Allis police, 1,908 for Wauwatosa and even 242 for the UW-Milwaukee police. That’s right, the UWM campus police handled 12 times more criminals than the Sheriff’s Department.

The main duties of the deputy sheriffs are to staff the Milwaukee County Jail and County Correctional Facility South (formerly House of Correction), handle the courthouse’s system of bailiffs, and patrol the freeways. More armed homeowners wouldn’t provide any help with those duties.

Categories: Back in the News

17 thoughts on “Back in the News: Sheriff David Clarke”

  1. Officer Mark Crozier Phx PD. Ret. says:

    Sir, you are to be congratulated! On behalf of the 3400 Police Officers here in Phoenix Arizona, I wanted to thank you for being honest and realistic. I spent 26 years on patrol here in downtown Phoenix, and I know from experience, your comments were absolutely factual and what the citizens in the United States needed to know. Thank you for being candid. We generally don’t hear that kind of honest rhetoric from our leaders, (especially those in the political arena).

    I retired a year ago, and moved to St.George Utah. When you reach that time in your life, you ought to check this place out. You’d love it here.

    Mark Crozier (Retired Phx P.D.) 480-390-0271

  2. Alba says:

    Don’t forget those countless speeding tickets they give out. What a great benefit to the community! Now many more drivers will have loaded guns on their belts – it sounds like the Sheriff is quite comfortable having his staff approach that kind of situation.

  3. john ackerman says:

    Not all too interesting to see the first thing done by a liberal Milwaukee writer is to attack the credibility of a black law enforcement official with opinions divergent from his own. I suppose anger and cynicism are natural responses when narcissism is confronted with superior logic and difficult reality. Not bookmarking but I’ll check back to see if you at least acknowledge that the Sheriff may have statistically valid points.

  4. john ackerman says:

    Oh and one more thing. I did some Google research and turned up some of Clarke’s credentials. Being a reporter of your journalistic integrity, I’m sure you’ll write a follow-up piece detailing his 24 distinguished years with the Milwaukee Police Department. In fact, here’s a sample of his biography you may want to include from the website:

    “Clarke joined the Milwaukee Police Department in 1978 at the age of 21, and acquired a broad range of experience. In eleven years as a Patrol Officer, he received meritorious citations for felony arrests. He was promoted to Detective in 1989, and after only nine months as a Detective, was selected for the Milwaukee Police Department’s specialized Homicide Division. Clarke was part of a team, which investigated more than 400 homicides in a four-year span. The Department made arrests in more than 80 percent of homicides, well above the national average of 60 percent.”

    “In 1999, Clarke became Commanding Officer of the Intelligence Division of the Milwaukee Police Department. The Division was responsible for producing and sharing intelligence, and for providing dignitary protection in conjunction with the Secret Service, the Department of State, and other federal agencies. Clarke also served as the Department’s liaison with the United States Attorney as coordinator of the CEASEFIRE violent crime reduction program, and with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation.”

    Fascinating. For such a paper tiger (according to you) the man has some pretty fierce credentials in the LE community. Kinda makes you wonder if he really DOES know what he’s talking about…

  5. Andrew says:

    Anyone who has called 911 in the City of Milwaukee and waited, and waited, AND WAITED forever for the police to come can surely understand the point being made by Sheriff Clark. The police are not equipped to be everywhere, always. To be truly safe you must be prepared to protect yourself. Just because he isn’t the one who responds to the calls doesn’t discount his very honest and frank opinion. If he said to keep a baseball bat behind the door would this even have been a story.

  6. Dave K. says:

    I would suggest that Sheriff Clark has just written his department’s obituary. If his staff is not able to handle the 57 violent crimes with his current budget, why not dismantle the department and shift responsibility to the municipalities that are already doing the heavy lifting. I’m sure the Milwaukee PD would love to add Clarke’s budget to their own resources.

  7. Dalon W says:

    Dave K,
    Maybe your new to this, but the Sherriff has overall responsibility of law enforcement in HIS county. You see, being a Sherriff, it’s kinda a big deal.

    Let me guess, you don’t believe in the Constitution either, right?

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @Dalon W Under that definition the Sheriff’s department is a massive failure (looking at the number of arrests reported to the FBI. The UWM police do better with a lot less). Now the truth is in Milwaukee County the Sheriff’s department does very little in regards to the overall law enforcement of the county. The Milwaukee Police Department is significantly larger (not really even comparable), and does the heavy lifting (as do other municipal departments).

  9. JohnG says:

    Interesting posters coming out of the woodwork…

  10. William says:

    I agree, JohnG. Which is why I, an actual long-time reader, am coming out of the woodwork to condemn the absolute absurdity of Sherrif Clarke.

    His department, which has little-to-nothing to do with safety to the average citizen whatsoever, is being cut after years of unnecessary increases. There’s no real reason for him to cut positions outside of politics.

    That Clarke takes the opportunity to voice one of the oldest memes of the NRA is not surprising in the least. He’s demonstrated time and time again that he’s completely incapable of showing any type of leadership. Why this guy keeps getting re-elected is beyond me.

  11. ClydeH says:

    Regardless of the specific responsibilities of the Sheriff’s department, as decried by the ‘journalist’ Murphy and many posters herein, the facts espoused by Sheriff Clarke are true and apply to most, if not all, areas ‘protected’ by Sheriff’s and Police Departments.
    As in health care, finances, etc., each of us needs to take primary personal responsibility for our health, livelihood and safety and protection, unless you like to cry about being a victim.

  12. Ronald Raygun says:

    Typical right wing appeal to fear, topped off with an idea that doesn’t work.

    Bet you it is rare that someone breaks into a house when someone is home. Most burglars want to slip in and out with no trouble. Only in the wild imaginations of these junior crime fighters do intruders burst into homes when someone is on the home. And when that happens, it is usually someone trying to settle a score with someone they know.

    Chances are quite strong that having a gun makes a home less safe in anticipation of these very rare instances. Now of course I can hear the bleating of the sheep – “well even if it is one I want to be protect.”

    Except nimrod, it is more likely a kid will find the weapon and it will go off, or someone gets into an argument during say a card game and picks up the gun to make their point. Statistics bear me out.

    This is the usual right wing means of giving solutions, analogous to curing a headache by smacking yourself in the face with a fry pan.

    David Clarke is not a very bright man, and people need to wake up to that. At the same time he is treating you like a fool.

  13. Dalon W says:


    It’s called America, land of the free. If you don’t want a gun, don’t buy one. Facts are over 99% of guns do no harm everyday. Cars kill over 300,000 people a year, malpratice over 42,000. Far more than any gun.
    Another thing, I had an armed man break into my home in 2010, took police 22 minutes to respond.

    I choose to plan for the worst an expect the best, but it’s my choice. Your welcome to have your own choice as well and I won’t try to legislate your Rights away either.

    David Clarke is actually trying to treat you as an adult, advising your responsible for yourself. If you prefer a babysitter, keep voting the way I suspect you already are.

  14. ChristinaS says:

    We need more honest people like Clarke. He tried to warn people of less police officers on the force. He was doing right by the people that live there. I wish there were more people like him

  15. Rick says:

    Clark is, and always has been, working to further his own political career. Why else would he be spending 2 week stints in California trying to get a masters degree in ‘Homeland Security’ when he should have been here figuring out how his department is going to patrol the County Park System?

    The University of Minnesota has a Department of Homeland Security and offers equivalent maters degrees. Why didn’t he attend classes there? Additionally, I think the argument isn’t whether individuals have the right to use firearms for personal protection, but rather his statements undermine confidence in ALL local law enforcement agencies, especially those that service low income communities where residents are already suspicious of the police, and 911 services.

    Sorry, but David Clark spends more time on AM radio stoking his own ego than he does solving problems. Given the fact that the Sheriffs department only responds to 2% of Milwaukee Counties violent crimes, I think it would be a wise decision for David Clark to figure out how he is going to keep our County buses and parks safe with the taxpayer money that was specifically allocated for these purposes.

  16. As a host of a local PODCAST and a citizen of MILWAUKEE COUNTY. I am furious at Sheriff Clarke’s irresponsible statements. He should worry about his job and not be suggesting that people shoot criminals even if only implied.
    He is not only a nut job and a cartoon character any more, the Yosemite Sam of the Sheriffs department, he has crossed the line into the realm of riotous and the dangerous. Should anyone take his advice and be hurt, or hurt someone, I pray that he is SUED for his CULPABILITY.
    People untrained over react to situation and use force that far exceeds the threat. Sheriff Clarke knows this and has taken his political aspirations and used them to drown his common sense.

  17. Nic says:

    I wonder what HATE RADIO host mentioned this article on air or posted it on his blog to draw so many pathetic, middle-aged lemmings?

    #3 is by far the best… gotta love how it’s okay for THEM to play the oh-so-dreaded “race card.”

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