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Under the Gun: Milwaukee County Sheriff David ClarkeSubmitted: 02/15/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke thinks homeowners should protect themselves with guns.

That's not something a lot of top law enforcement officers say, but Sheriff Clarke is not just any law enforcement officer.

Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm met up with the Sheriff while she studied gun violence in Wisconsin's biggest city.

Sheriff David Clarke has made headlines for nearly two years now for his view's on gun control. And as you'll see he's quite unapologetic about them.

Most recently he got national attention for a PSA on Milwaukee radio stations.

"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?", says Clarke on the PSA.

Sheriff Clarke is serving his third four-year term in Milwaukee. He's been an outspoken critic of gun-control suggestions by the Milwaukee Police Chief, and the President.

"I trust law abiding people with guns. I trust them to make good decisions. The data is that the overwhelming majority of them do not use guns to commit crimes. So why do we want to focus on the wrong thing?" says Clarke.

It's a notion echoed by a powerful gun rights lobby you may have heard of.

"Gun control sounds nice. The fact is it's not so nice. Because all it does is put an increased burden on people who hunt, on people who need firearms, or want firearms for self-protection. They're the ones who follow the law," says National Rifle Association President David Keene.

Clarke says Milwaukee's gun violence problem is out of hand because the police and judicial system aren't on the same page.

"There's a lot of plea-bargaining, a lot of watered down prosecutions, a lot of horse trading that goes on. And that sends a message to the criminal element that, 'yeah I know we talk tough but in the end we don't back that action up'. Over time, when people realize, 'Guess what I got caught with a gun I'm going to the joint for six years, I'm going to the joint because I'm charged federally, I'm going away for ten years," says Clarke.

He says that's when things will start changing on the street. And he has a few ideas on how to make that happen.

"All felony possession of firearms, every one, should go to the federal government, not state court. In state court I believe the sentence is six years maximum, and they're not getting anywhere near that. In the federal it's ten, period," says Clarke.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting Clark called for armed security in all schools and public places. Clarke ran for Sheriff as a democrat. His warnings about disarming the public and not being tough enough on gun criminals sound a lot like the NRA's.

"You know first of all that your pool of victims is unarmed. Because they've complied with the law. They're law abiding people and they don't have guns. What else do you know? If you use a gun to go after them, you don't get any additional punishment for doing it," says Keene.

Clarke says legislation doesn't change things on the street. He doesn't buy into the idea that making things like straw purchases and illegal gun possession automatic felonies will make any difference.

"Yeah, I'd support that, but it isn't going to do any good. See we're looking for that technical fix; we're working on the wrong thing. What we have to do is get the judiciary and the prosecutor to say, 'Ok straw purchase, ten years.' Now that doesn't mean automatic ten years. In one case, the person got four days," says Clarke.

So what about that public service announcement that caused a national stir? Clarke says he was trying to get people to take responsibility for their personal safety since his budget was cut by $17 million in two years.

"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. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can protect yourself until we get there," says Clarke on his PSA.

"If you're inside your home and the wolf is at the door, yeah, call 911; I'd recommend that. But I'm trying to prepare people, and leverage the fact that they have the means to defend themselves, and work with them and say, 'Hey here's some things to think about'," says Clarke.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/25/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll take you to the Oneida County Courthouse for day 2 of the trial of Mark Spietz who is accused of breaking into and stealing items from a home where a double murder occurred in March of 2015.

Snowmobiling will start in just a few months. We'll show you how snowmobile clubs and groomer builders in Vilas County are getting prepared for the season before the snow falls.

And we'll give you a look at one of the oldest resorts Vilas County has to offer.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Within a few hours, a jury found a Fox Valley man guilty of stealing things from the house where Ashlee Martinson killed Thomas and Jennifer Ayers Thursday.

The two-day trial for Mark Spietz, 39, of Kaukauna, finished up Thursday afternoon, following a morning of the defense arguing it was all part of Spietz's job.

Spietz was a contract worker for a company called TruAssets, which secures abandoned or foreclosed homes throughout the country. The company is based in Arizona.

On Thursday, Spietz testified that in September and October, he took ATVs, bows, a John Deere tractor, a trailer and Jennifer Ayers' purse from the house to try and secure it for his employer.

"My experience with the work order is that it is our job to make sure the property is secured," Spietz said. "Obviously if I can open the doors and get into it, anybody can open the doors and get into it. So I ended up removing the ATVs with the trailer and them bringing them back to Kaukauna to lock up in my storage facility where they would be under lock and key for the future for whatever the bank decided they wanted to do with their property."

In the criminal complaint, however, Spietz told investigators he took the purse because he thought his wife would like it.

But the state argued Thursday he technically didn't have permission from the company to be at the house after the first visit. Oneida County District Attorney Mike Schiek presented Spietz with the original work order form TruAssets assigned him. The document specifically stated not to remove any personal property from the house, and that contract workers should submit a bid for the property if they do take it from the house.

Schiek then argued Spietz specifically targeted the empty house because he knew its owners were dead.

"Looking back, what did you think you saw?" Schiek asked Spietz during his cross examination.

"Couple spots on the floor, large, dark spots," Spietz responded.

"Knowing what you know now, do you know what that was?" Schiek asked.

"To the best of my knowledge that's where they were killed," Spietz replied.

Spietz's attorney Brian Bennett said since Spietz is not from the area, he wouldn't have known the homicides happened at the house. He argued there was no sign saying no trespassing, nor had he had any knowledge the house was in probate.

"He used his best judgment based on his experience," Bennett said during his closing argument. "Which makes him quite possibly, if he's a burglar, the worst burglar in the world."

Bennett added Spietz gets little supervision from TruAssets, as Spietz testified he has never met a person from the company.

"It seems like a burden to have to come up here, pick up the stuff, store it, mess around with it, hold onto the titles, make sure it doesn't get stolen," Bennett said during his closing argument. "That's not a jackpot, that's a burden." 

Spietz will be sentenced in October. 

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EAGLE RIVER - The Vilas County Sheriff's Office says no one was hurt after a 48-year-old Mark Mayo of Eagle River threatened to hurt himself with a firearm near Eagle River Wednesday night.

Crews responded Wednesday evening near to the area near Deerskin Road north of Eagle River and south of Phelps to reports that a man wanted to hurt himself and was armed with a 9 mm handgun and two magazines. That report came in around 3:55 p.m.

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VILAS COUNTY - Soon snow will be falling. In fact, preparation for snowmobile season starts as soon as next month.
Cross Country Cruisers Snowmobile Club President David Assmann and his crew are just about ready to hit the trails, starting in September.

"We cut all the brush and everything that's low to the ground," said Assmann.

His crew spends a lot of volunteered time making sure 93 miles of trails near Arbor Vitae are ready and safe to use in the winter.

"We have at least five guys going out, sometimes twice a day. We do trails in the morning and then trails late at night," said Assmann.

Many people who live here use the Northwoods trails, but so do a lot of tourists during the winter months.
"We are able to go out, get these trails groomed so that the tourists that come up can go on our trails, can get to the different businesses in the area, and that helps the economy up here," said Assmann.

With so many miles of trails in Vilas County, one of the best parts is that there is equipment made to maintain those trails, right in St. Germain.

Arrowhead Groomers has been in Vilas County since 1976. The company builds equipment that levels out the trails.

"We manufacture the snow groomer drags primarily for snowmobile trails. Some of them end up getting used on cross country ski trails as well," said Walker Equipment owner Dave Walker.

Another local snowmobile club, Bo-Boen, uses the Arrowhead Groomers on their trails as well.

"I have 17 drivers on my staff that maintain 100 miles of trails here in St. Germain. We're very cognizant of the fact that we have to do a good job to bring those people here so they can spend their money and keep our economy going," said the trail boss for Bo-Boen snowmobile club Jim Wendt.

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MADISON - Five candidates for president other than Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have met qualifications to be on the ballot in Wisconsin.

The state Elections Commission is slated to approve the ballot on Tuesday.

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RHINELANDER - New ownership will be taking over a major employer in Rhinelander and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Oldenburg Group announced today its Heavy Equipment Group has been sold.

That includes its Defense and Mining business units.

J.F. Lehman and Company will take over control of the operations.

The company was founded in 1992 by former Navy Secretary John Lehman.

The former Oldenburg operations will be renamed Lake Shore Systems, Inc.

The existing management team and employees will stay in place, and all plants will operate as normal.

The deal includes the plant in Rhinelander and several facilities in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Wayne Oldenbug said one of his conditions was that there would be no deal unless there was an agreement to hire everybody...and not close any facilities.


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BOULDER JUNCTION - There's a lot of things you won't find at Aqualand Alehouse in Boulder Junction that you're probably used to seeing in the Northwoods.

You won't find a deep fryer in its kitchen, you won't find any Miller Lite on tap, and you won't find any fish fry on Friday night's.

But you might just find your new favorite pub.

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