Editor's Note: When Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released his proposed 2012 budget, many groups felt the squeeze of budget cuts as Abele attempted to close a $55 million budget gap.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. is one of those feeling the echo of those cuts. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, amid shifting health care costs to employees and retirees, Abele is also slashing the sheriff's budget by $14 million, which the Journal Sentinel says will force Clarke to cancel the sheriff's boot camp program, reduced funds for drug enforcement and criminal investigators as well as a reduction in the department's K9 unit.
"I respect and honor the role that the sheriff's office plays in maintaining safety in our community," Abele said in the article. "But it is time to prioritize and focus on what is mandated by statute and is most crucial to our shared goal of public safety."
Clarke responded with this press release he sent out Thursday morning:
I am not surprised at all by County Executive Abele’s low priority for public safety. He demonstrated his disdain for law and order even before he became county executive. There’s no questioning his authority to propose a budget for Milwaukee County. My advice to him, however, is to go back and read the state constitution, state statutes and the case law relative to the authority of a sheriff. He obviously did not take the time to educate himself.
He does not run the office of the sheriff, and I do not take orders or directives from a county executive. Case law is very clear that the sheriff alone decides how to carry out his duty and responsibility. His budget is an obvious attempt to micromanage my office. I am independently elected by the voters of Milwaukee County. He may think that he can eliminate the Discipline Order Training and Structure (DOTS) program, but let me be very clear on this – the DOTS program is staying.
He may think that he can require me to submit reports, but again, the state constitution is very clear when it states that no county official can require a sheriff to submit reports. He can create any study group that he wants and they can make any recommendations they want. Again, I will refer the county executive back to the state constitution and case law that show that the sheriff alone decides how to carry out the duties and responsibilities of his office. My advice to him is not to hold his breath, because he’s not getting any reports.
He talked about shared goals? I don’t share his goal to be soft on crime, coddle criminal inmates and excuse criminal behavior. The first thing that will be cut as a result of this insane budget decrease will be in the area of inmate programs. Inmate programs, except DOTS, will cease to exist and the money saved will be applied to keeping the county a safe place for law-abiding people.
Chris Abele ran for county executive, not sheriff. If he wants to be in charge of my office, he’s going to have to run for sheriff in 2014. Until then, the voters elected me to run the sheriff’s office.