Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Street Will Receive Honorary Name For Wisconsin’s First Black Sheriff

"Sheriff Richard Artison" will be applied to portion of N. 9th Street near courthouse.

By - Jul 20th, 2023 03:19 pm
Sheriff Richard Artison. Image from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Richard Artison. Image from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

A downtown street will soon honor former sheriff Richard Artison.

Artison, who served as Milwaukee County Sheriff from 1983 to 1995, was a trailblazer. He was the first Black sheriff in Milwaukee and Wisconsin history. Before that, he served nine years as the head of the Milwaukee office of the U.S. Secret Secret.

An honorary street name will be applied to N. 9th Street between W. Highland Avenue and N. Wisconsin Avenue. The street runs between several civic buildings, including the Milwaukee County Courthouse, Milwaukee County Jail and Milwaukee County Safety Building. Artison was involved in the development of the jail.

“When I heard about this consideration, it just blew me away,” said Artison, 90, on Wednesday in an appearance before the Public Works Committee.

It’s being formally sought by Artison’s long-time friend, retired federal judge Charles Clevert, Jr.

“Richard Artison has blazed an amazing career in law enforcement and has an incredible impact on this city and this county,” said Clevert, listing off Artison’s career accomplishments. “Richard Artison is a man of the people.”

He didn’t have to sell the nomination to the committee, which unanimously endorsed the application.

“It’s a great pleasure and honor to have you here today,” said committee chair Alderman Robert Bauman to Artison. After Clevert introduced himself, Bauman said the committee was graced by all-stars and suggested Clevert would also be a great candidate for an honorary street name.

Artison established the K-9 program during his tenure and also initiated a series of drug abatement or resistance programs. He was the elected president of the Badger State Sheriffs’ Association and served as a board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee.

He was appointed as sheriff by Governor Tony Earl. “I was appointed the same day that Judge Russell Stamper was appointed,” said Artison [ed: Stamper was appointed a few months earlier]. “As new politicians, we made a lot of stops together.” The city committee includes Stamper’s son, Russell W. Stamper, II, who enjoyed a story from Artison about all the food the judge and sheriff had to eat during one southside event.

“It is an absolute honor to meet you Sheriff Artison and I am humbled and honored to support this name change for you,” said the younger Stamper. The full committee signed on as co-sponsors.

Artison, who started his career with the Omaha Police Department, originally came to Milwaukee as an investigator with The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He said he joined the Secret Service during a 1965 expansion following the assassination of President John Kennedy.

After retiring as sheriff in 1995, Artison almost set another first. He ran for mayor in 1996 against incumbent John Norquist and would have been the city’s first Black mayor had he won (he lost 60-40). He relocated to Omaha after the race. Aside from the mayoral run, his campaign record is spotless. Artison, who ran as a Democrat, never faced a major challenger for what was then a two-year term.

On Wednesday he said he was moved to return to Milwaukee after the passing of his wife, Charleszine. He now lives in suburban Glendale, which he quickly pointed out to the city committee was in Milwaukee County. “I had a 40-year career in law enforcement and about 30 of those years were spent right here in Milwaukee,” he said.

Artison was joined on Wednesday by one of his three children, daughter Lisa Artison. She is a former city employee, having served as the head of the Milwaukee Election Commission in 2004. Charleszine also worked for the city for a period.

The full council will vote on the nomination July 31.

Honorary street names include the addition of a blue sign above the formal green street sign. They do not change the name of the street and are paid for by the applicant. The Citizen Advisory Committee on the Naming of Public Buildings, Facilities and Streets reviews each nomination before it goes to the council.

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Related Legislation: File 230256

Categories: Public Safety

One thought on “City Hall: Street Will Receive Honorary Name For Wisconsin’s First Black Sheriff”

  1. mkeumkenews09 says:

    Please stop renaming streets that are numbered street names. There are plenty other streets that can be renamed.

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