Graham Kilmer
MKE County

After ‘Neither Dignity Nor Value’ Comment, Staskunas Wants Clancy Out As Law Enforcement Committee Chair

Staskunas irked by Clancy's recent comments about police work having no "dignity or value."

By - Sep 15th, 2023 04:46 pm
Left to right, Supervisors Tony Staskunas and Ryan Clancy.

Left to right, Supervisors Tony Staskunas and Ryan Clancy.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Tony Staskunas is calling for his colleague Ryan Clancy to be removed as chair of county board’s Judiciary, Law Enforcement and General Services Committee (JLEGS).

Staskunas wrote a letter to county board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson Thursday asking her to remove him as chair of the committee. Staskunas’ explained in his letter that he thinks Clancy’s comments that police work has “no dignity or value” and the way he chaired a recent committee meeting leave Clancy unfit to chair the committee that handles the board’s work with the criminal justice system. The board chair can unilaterally appoint the committee chairs.

The committee is the primary body for the board’s work with the organs of the county’s criminal justice system. The board does not have the statutory authority to set policy for the Milwaukee County Sheriff‘s Office, the District Attorney’s Office or the Circuit Court system, but it does set the budget and issue recommendations.

Staskunas, who chaired the judiciary committee for four years from 2018 to 2022, said Clancy “has a long history of antagonism and disdain for law enforcement.” He referenced Clancy’s comment about “dignity and value” and another time Clancy said, “American policing has always been bad and it always will be.”

“Supervisor Clancy is entitled to his opinion on these matters,” Staskunas wrote. “However, I find it highly inappropriate that a person with these opinions would be made the Chairman of the JLEGS.” The supervisor said the committee should be chaired “in an even-handed fashion, giving and granting to law enforcement the proper respect that they are due, and also be able to question law enforcement and their activities as it is necessary.”

“It is our duty to examine the systems and process that we have in place for all county residents,” Clancy said in a statement to Urban Milwaukee. Clancy said that he’s trying to “raise our standards” and that Staskunas seeking his ouster “does nothing to advance our work and is wholly disrespectful to those who have been harmed by the standards currently in place and the families of those who have lost their loved ones to them.”

The meeting Staskunas referenced in his letter was a marathon seven-hour meeting of the judiciary committee that finished with a consideration of a file of reports and documents the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office turned over in response to legislation passed by the board. That legislation requested a response to a number of deaths in the Milwaukee County Jail over the past year.

“More recently, at this week’s committee meeting of JLEGS, Supervisor Clancy was insulting, combative, and condescending to members of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, including the Milwaukee County Sheriff (Denita) Ball,” Staskunas said.

The MCSO maintains that short staffing and forced overtime in the jail is burning out corrections officers and contributing to the poor and dangerous conditions there. Whereas Clancy said police work has “no dignity or value” and maintains that MCSO staffing should be cut. With both sides at loggerheads, much of Clancy’s time was used scorning the MCSO for putting forward that staffing is a problem contributing to deaths at the jail, and at times arguing with MCSO officials. The committee engaged little with the requested reports and documents, some of which covered the agency’s policies for suicide prevention and mental health care. Most of the time was spent collecting public comments, which included criticisms and denunciations of the MCSO.

“Allowing the public to ask questions and requesting that the relevant department answer those questions is not ‘disrespectful’ or ‘argumentative,'” Clancy said in a statement. “It is a vital and necessary way to move us towards accountability and to ensure that we have better outcomes within those departments.”

Staskunas shared the letter with his colleagues seeking their support on Thursday. On Friday, the letter was shared with the media.

Read Staskunas’ full letter on Urban Milwaukee.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

Categories: MKE County, Politics

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us