Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s personal safety message, which called on Milwaukee County gun owners to “fight back” and take a certified gun safety course, started a media firestorm as Clarke appeared on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.
Still, the inquiries came after Clarke issued the following public service announcement:
I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal…your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport; I need you in the game, but are you ready? With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 9-1-1 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; but are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?
Airing on news talk radio host Mark Belling’s show, put on the department’s website and posted on the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, the message has unnerved anti-violence and anti-gun groups.
One anti-violence group called Clarke’s message “vigilantism” and a spokes woman from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s office said: "Apparently, Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie," according to the Journal Sentinel.
On Badger Blogger, Glenn D. Frankovis wrote:
…the point is that when someone is breaking into your home, you really ARE in a much better position to respond to the threat than waiting for an Officer to respond to your 911 call (assuming you even have time to make that call).
Fox Point Police Chief Tom Czaja said the department supports the Constitutional rights of Fox Point citizens to own and possess firearms, and their right to protect themselves. And, if you do own a firearm, then you should take the proper safety courses.
But he's not calling on Fox Point citizens to take any type of vigilante approach.
Czaja said his department has been at full staff and their response times have been within one minute for priority calls while non-priority calls average a five minute response.
Still, Fox Point residents should be aware that they don’t use Milwaukee County’s 911 System, he said.
“The department uses Bayside’s 911 system and it answers all cell and landline calls,” Czaja said. “It’s been reliable and we have not had any problems so I can’t speak for the system the county uses.”
The Shorewood and Whitefish Bay police chiefs were not available Monday; they will be included in this article as soon as they are reached for comment.