Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr, known for his flamboyantly ornate tough guy style, released a 30 second radio ad asking area residents to acquire and learn to use firearms so they can defend themselves, as cutbacks and layoffs have greatly diminished his departments ability to respond to 911 calls in a timely manner.
From the ad:
“With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 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. … Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there.”
Speaking with the AP, Clarke said he just wanted to be clear with the public and make sure they understood their options.
“I’m not telling you to `Hey, pick up a gun and blast away.’ … People need to know what they are doing if they chose that method — to defend themselves,” Clarke said.
“People are responsible to play a role in their own safety, with the help of law enforcement,” Clarke said. “I’m here to do my part, but we have fewer and fewer resources. We’re not omnipresent, and we have to stop giving people that impression. After sitting down and thinking about this, I’m thinking `Hey, I’ve got an untapped reserve over here, and it’s the public.”
“I need you in the game,” pleaded the forthright Sheriff.
Sheriff Clarke is well known for his cowboy hat and tough, Clint Eastwood style of doing business and in 2011, after budget cuts totaling $14 million dollars caused the draw down in his police force, the Sheriff immediately became the center of attention on more than one occasion as he battled county executives – some battles large, and some perhaps a bit trivial.
Clarke’s constituents and other area officials criticized the Sheriff’s call to action:
Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, Roy Felber: “That doesn’t sound too smart. People have the right to defend themselves, but they don’t have the right to take the law into their own hands.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, himself a recent victim of violent crime, released a statement criticizing the ad: “Apparently Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie.”
Clarke said he thought that the Mayor’s personal encounter with violence would have made him “a lot more sensitive to people being able to defend themselves in such instances. A firearm and a plan of defense would have come in handy for him that day.”
Executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, Jeri Bonavia, said Clarke took a dangerous position with his ad and made comparisons to George Zimmerman who is charged with fatally shooting Travon Martin:
“I feel like this is such an irresponsible thing for our chief public safety officer of a county to do,” Bonavia said. “I think he owes this community an apology. And if he really believes that he’s not capable of providing for our public safety he should get a different job.”
Because of Wisconsin’s “castle doctrine,” it’s legal for a citizen to use deadly force against an intruder in their home, vehicle or business.
What do you think of the “tough guy” Sheriff’s message? Is he acting responsibly by forewarning those he feels a sense of responsibility to protect or is his message one of irresponsibility, as is the consensus among his peers?
UPDATE: JANUARY 30
Piers Morgan Harasses Sheriff Clarke: VIDEO
The fluffy little British biscuit Piers Morgan, who is exploiting the gun control issue every chance he gets, had Sheriff Clarke on his show Piers Morgan Tonight Tuesday night. and he didn’t waste a moment going for the good sheriff’s juggler:
“What you’re creating is a return to the Wild West in Milwaukee. You do these racy, Hollywood-style adverts. You want them all out there armed and shooting. I mean, Sheriff, listening to the way that you phrased yourself in that ad, the kind of Hollywood voice you put on, the deep tones, making it all sound terribly exciting and dramatic, it sounded like some kind of John Wayne movie. How on Earth does that kind of rhetoric to the American people serve any kind of sensible, rational purpose?”