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Sheriff Clarke Blasts County Exec's Proposed Budget Cuts

Clarke says Abele's $14 million in reductions to Sheriff's Department is "insane."

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.

Kairren September 29, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Sheriff David Clarke has my support. He's a man of his word and extremely competent and cares about public safety 100 percent. Abele needs to realize that Milwaukee and Milwaukee County is becoming a war zone and no one is interested in living and/or retiring in such an unsafe city. I still live in Milw. County and pay emormous taxes. I live here because I was born here, but lately I'm considering leaving due to the increaase in crime. We need to be tougher on criminals and stop coddling them. The state prison system gives way too much in medical care and other advantages to their inmates. We need reform. Is Sheriff Clarke the only sane one in government on board with this idea! I firmly reject Abele's proposal to cut Sheriff Clarke's budget.
Bren September 29, 2011 at 11:11 PM
The key phrase here is "proposed budget cuts." Sheriff Clarke has made a strong statement, but he's also very aware of how things stand in the county. It's a depressing and frustrating situation.
Milwaukee Rooster September 30, 2011 at 03:28 AM
This response just shows how crazy Sheriff Clarke is. While Abele certianly can't determine how he deploys the Sheriff's resources Abele can and does have the authority to cut his budget (as does the county board). If Clarke wants to fund DOTS while ignoring his constitutional responsibilities then he's the one not doing his job and should be preparing for more cuts. @Kairren the crime rate isn't increasing please read (http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/128084888.html). Please stop spreading falsehoods about our County. Thanks!
Ray Ray Johnson September 30, 2011 at 12:34 PM
I'm pleasantly surprised by the conduct of Chris Abele. I had a prejudice against him that was influenced by talk radio. I thought he was going to be a clueless spender. But his conduct has shown him to be fiscally austere, a necessary quality for all politicians, particulary those in leadership. I do think that the Sheriff's dept covers too much ground; they cover highway safety, the county jail (in all its configurations downtown), courthouse, safety building, the house of correction, process service, and investigations under their jurisdiction, not to mention vehicles and vehicle maintenance. it's a huge undertaking when you look at what they have assigned to them. Perhaps a solution is to cross-train and rotate, so that less people could cover more area, or place some rotated deputies in an 'on-call' status for irregular duties, paying them for their actual time on a call. I also agree that Sheriff Clark is a stand-up guy, even for a politician. I do believe he is a good man and an effective leader. The only way they can be cut is to find a better way to pay for their ancillary needs and their vehicles. We nned to brainstorm out of the box, like starting a community-owned automobile manufacturer in an abandoned local manufacturing facility whose niche is to make only law enforcement autos for local departments. Or a community-owned textile plant for making uniforms with a volunteer or inmate work force.
robert heule September 30, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Clarke should not use county resources to force a Deputy to walk unarmed in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Milwaukee, because the Deputy who was the editor of the union newspaper published an article critical of Clarke. Clarke has also ordered Deputies to confiscate cell phones of violators of the "no texting" law. The law is a good one, but confiscation has not been authorized by the Legislature. When Clarke first took office, he told municipal Police Chiefs that he was "in charge". Maybe that's technically true, but this is not 1848. Generally, the Chiefs in Milwaukee County municipalities are doing their jobs. If they don't, the problems are handled by the local Fire and Police Commissions. Clarke uses the Democratic Party to get elected, but refuses to pay dues. Jeff Stone's voter disenfranchisement act prohibits straight ticket voting. I don't need it when Clarke is running, because I skip the office of sheriff and vote for all of the real Democrats.
Greg in OC September 30, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Every time cuts are proposed for police, sheriffs, and fire departments are asked to share the cuts necessary for buget austerity, they squeal like a stuck pig claiming that the city would be run by criminals and a great conflagration will destroy the city killing all. They must contribute to the cutbacks equally. Apperntly a majority of taxpayers would rather have cuts than tax increases to operate the county.
Eastside Gal September 30, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Sheriff Clarke is a straight-shooter (no pun intended). I appreciate the fact that he recognizes Chris Abele's authority to cut his budget, but tells the County Exec not to meddle in the management of public safety issues of which Abele appears ignorant. Sheriff Clarke is deftly handling the political football Chris Abele threw him, and will fulfill his responsibility to provide the best possible public safety the budget Chris Abele gave him will allow. Kudos to Sheriff Clarke.
henryK@aol.com September 30, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Suck it up people, cut services or raise taxes, you need to pick one. The cops and fire should not be exempt!
Mike October 01, 2011 at 02:15 AM
Actually all new hires for police and fire are not exempt. They have to kick into pensions as well. Besides cops/fire should be exempt because while you're staying in your nice little home with your family during the holidays and night time while you're asleep the cops and fire fighters are out doing their jobs. Besides when was the last time you had to work holidays? I have friends who are cops / firefighters and some of them work every holiday.
Ray Ray Johnson October 01, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Boo-f'n- hoo! I was hit by a drunk driver at 09:00 on Easter morning a few years ago and the cop went off on ME for him having to do all the paperwork. I'll tell you what I told him. "Boo f'n HOO!!! Find another line of work if you don't like it."
valshell October 03, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Ray I could'nt agree more when they act like your the problem instead of just doing their jobs."
Strontium90 October 11, 2011 at 08:39 PM
This event was on the horizon when Clarke took over the Sheriff's Dept and began to cut staffing which dulled the edge of what the department was capable of. Now with current staffing which causes a lot of doubling up on assignments and overtime the agency is strained. Since Abele does not care nor does he understand what it takes to do the job he wants to hack staffing from he would literally gut the agency then blame it for not doing its job. Law Enforcement deals with people not machines which is interactive with totally unexpected behavior. A machine does not have a free will and change it's behavior or try to kill you when you turn your back on it, but a person will. That is why quite often it takes more officers than subjects to manage an event. Why is that people will ask and that is because the officer is also looking out for the subject. If that were not the case the officers conceivably would just shoot the subject at the first challenge and move on but they are protecting the very person trying to assault them as well. You can not deal with people oriented activities like auto crashes, inmates in the jail, and more with one officer standing there quoting the law. Someone has to do the job and enforce it.
Cherry San Jose January 26, 2013 at 03:51 AM
A community-owned automobile manufacturer? Sounds like a tax payer money black hole that GM and Chrysler both have now become. A bad idea.... How about doing what Clarke recommended, buy a gun and protect yourself in a pinch.

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