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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: 04/26/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll take you live to the Vilas County Courthouse for day 3 of the trial for 36-year-old Rodney Teets who is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at knife point in July 2015.

The Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness wants to work with landlords to help people get back on their feet. We talk to the housing program team leader about a meeting coming up in Rhinelander that will allow landlords to share information that can help the homeless find places to rent.

And we talk with The Forest County Health Department director about a program that is encouraging people to limit their time with TV, computers, iPhones and other types of screens for a week.

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

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RHINELANDER - Nothing gets the competitive juices flowing like racing to fix a car's fuse box. Nicolet College in Rhinelander hosted 12 Northwoods high schools for some friendly competition with a specific goal in mind.

The competitions varied from auto skills to welding to even cupcake baking. The goal was for students to begin thinking about college.

"Getting to see the inner workings of a vehicle, getting to work and learn at the same time, it makes me think more about college and what I want to do with my future," said Crandon sophomore, Kegan Wilson.

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WISCONSIN - Turkey season began last week and hunters have a new option for what they can do with the turkeys they shoot.

The DNR started a turkey donating program this year.

You can donate turkey's to three processors in the southern half of the state.

"A little bit further south of here in areas where there's usually a lot of deer donations and a lot of turkey shot so that we can try and get some good participation for the first year," said DNR's Wildlife Biologist, Jeremy Holtz.

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RHINELANDER - Rent can eat up more than half of a person's income when they earn minimum wage. That can lead to missed rent payments and even homelessness.

The Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness, or N*WISH, wants to work the landlords to keep people housed.

"This is a new initiative, I guess, to try to build landlord relationships and awareness of homelessness and people in need," said Housing Program team leader Lori Hallas.

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VILAS COUNTY - Day three of the trial for Rodney Teets brought a variety of witnesses to the stand.

The 36-year-old Vilas County man is accused of three counts of sexual assault.

Wednesday began with testimony from a slew of law enforcement.

Each of them went over the night the woman accusing Teets of sexual assault called 9-1-1 .

Prosecutors showed the clothes police believe Teets was wearing that night and showed the knife police found in the pocket.

It is unclear if this is the same knife with which investigators believe Teets threatened the woman.

Next, the court heard from the sexual assault nurse examiner, or SANE nurse, who examined the woman in the case.

The nurse read from her report that night, referring to the woman as "the patient."

"The patient appears alert, awake, cooperative, tearful," the SANE nurse testified.

Defense attorney Steven Lucareli asked the SANE nurse if she noticed the woman was hurt.

"No physical injuries whatsoever, whether violent or not?" Lucareli asked. The nurse confirmed this was true.

Then, a DNA analyst from the state crime lab testified she found Teets's DNA from the samples the SANE nurse sent to her.

Lucareli pointed out that the analyst couldn't say how the DNA might have gotten there.

"The DNA doesn't tell us anything about whether a rape occurred?" Lucareli asked. The analyst confirmed this was true.

Prosecutors will call their last two witnesses Thursday, including the main detective in the case. Then the defense will begin presenting its argument.

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MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker says he hopes President Donald Trump's aggressive negotiating style will get Canadian officials to delay policy changes that will evaporate the demand for Wisconsin milk producers.

Walker said Wednesday that Trump's retaliatory move to impose tariffs on Canadian lumber was aggressive but appreciated.

Dozens of Wisconsin dairy farmers lost a market for their milk after Canada announced plans to change its dairy pricing policy to favor domestic milk.

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TOMAHAWK - Unless you find yourself in trouble, you don't usually sit down and talk with a cop. 

The Tomahawk Police Department held its monthly Coffee with a Cop meeting Wednesday morning.

It gives people the chance to pull up a chair and talk to Chief Al Elvins about their questions or concerns.

Those concerns change with the season. 

Warmer weather means kids will be out of school soon and there'll be more foot traffic.
 
And don't forget about those motorcycles. 

"Watch out for the motorcycles. So often they hit a blind spot on us and you don't see them. If you are driving a bike, be aware of your surroundings. Remember that four wheels don't always see your two wheels," said Chief Elvins. 

The city's drug takeback will be open all day on Saturday. The department does it twice a year.

You can bring in any over the counter or prescription drugs to the station's drop-off box.


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