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.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

PARK FALLS - Many people in the Northwoods go to church on Sunday mornings, and for some of them it may be begrudgingly.

But there are plenty of people, often elderly or sick, who want to go to church but have a hard time doing so.

Peace Lutheran Church in Park Falls wanted to change that. Since May, they've been undergoing some construction. On Sunday, the church had a dedication ceremony for a special new addition—an elevator.

Now people like 100-year-old Ruth Olson can worship with greater ease.

Before the elevator, Olson said she would get to church by literally pulling herself up the stairs using the railing.

Olson's story is like many. As the older population grows, church buildings don't evolve with them. The buildings are often old and sometimes lack accomodating features for the elderly or disabled, and takes money to update the buildings.

"We have churches where the people are getting older and it's very hard for people to get around," said Rev. Dwayne Lueck, the district president for the North Wisconsin District Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.

Some parishoners couldn't do what Ruth used to do, and so they would have to worship at a service held across the street in the day care center, instead of in the beautiful church.

"Now all the services can be over here," said Rev. Dale Heinlein, the pastor of Peace Lutheran.

The congregation at Peace Lutheran believed in an elevator, so they paid for it.

"We been talking and planning this for...a long time," said Dick Ross, president of the congregation. "Pretty hard for some of the people, and I think you saw them, pretty hard for some of the people to worship here, so it was time."

"You can see it in their eyes more than anything when they know they have access and when they come up here and just enter the building and no steps, it's a great thing," said Buzz Peters, a parishoner who helped design the new elevator and space.

"We can finally have access for everybody to get into the worship facility, free access, that's what this is all about," Heinlein said. 

+ Read More

Play Video

WOODRUFF - If they haven't already, people will start bringing out the Christmas decorations.

And it wouldn't be complete without that perfect Christmas tree.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - It's that time of year again.

Minocqua kicked off its' Christmas celebrations Saturday.

+ Read More

MADISON - Two Republican legislators have created a bill that would shift federal road dollars from local projects to major state projects. Opponents say the bill is a backdoor attempt to make sure federal prevailing wage requirements don't apply to local projects.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Duey Stroebel and Rep. Rob Brooks would transfer $47 million in federal funding from local projects to state projects and move $47 million in state dollars from state projects to local ones.

Stroebel says the swap would save money by removing local projects from burdensome federal regulations.

He has been a vocal advocate for doing away with prevailing wage statutes, which require minimum salaries for workers on government-funded construction projects.

Spokeswomen for GOP legislative leaders didn't respond to inquiries about the bill's chances.

+ Read More

MADISON - New state data show that nearly 15,000 Wisconsin residents lost access to food stamps in the first three months of a new law that requires some recipients to seek jobs.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1Ple8j5 ) it obtained the data from the Department of Human Services under the state open records law.

The rule took effect in April for participants in the state's food stamp program, FoodShare. It requires able-bodied adults without children living at home to work at least 80 hours a month or look for work to stay in the program.

The DHS data show about 25 percent of the 60,000 recipients eligible to work were dropped from the program between July and September. But about 4,500 found work through a new job training program for FoodShare recipients.

+ Read More

MAUSTON - Authorities are investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in Decorah Lake early Friday.

Kyle Lynch, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden for Juneau County, says he was called to the scene to assist in a boat search about 1:30 a.m. He also says the Mauston Fire Department recovered the body, which was found in the water.

+ Read More

APPLETON - The U.S. Marshals Service says a convicted sex offender who was wanted for violating the terms of his release has been arrested in Appleton.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here