Milwaukee County Sheriff Speaks Common Sense

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Jr. released a 30-second commercial where he offered encouragement and solidarity to local citizens in the light of last year’s budget cuts which caused 48 deputies to be laid off.1

His key comments were, “I need you in the game.  With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.”  He adds, “You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. … Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there.”

Of course, Sheriff Clarke has his detractors.  Roy Felber, president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sherriffs Association said, “That doesn’t sound too smart.  People have the right to defend themselves, but they don’t have the right to take the law into their own hands.”  The AP article indicated he said it sounded like a call to vigilantism.  [If he had listened, the Sheriff didn’t suggest anyone take the law into his own hands, just to buy some time until the professionals arrive.]

Incidentally, “vigilante” is defined as “a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate); broadly: a self-appointed doer of justice.”Is someone acting in self-defense, while waiting for the police to arrive, a “vigilante?”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s office released a satirical comment: “Apparently Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie.”1  [Juvenile humor indicates the lack of a case against you, Sheriff Clarke!]

The AP article also said that Clarke believes self-defense isn’t for everyone, but he wants citizens to know what their options are.  He added, “I’m not telling you to `Hey, pick up a gun and blast away.’ … People need to know what they are doing if they chose that method — to defend themselves.”1

Jeni Bonavia, executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, brought up the George Zimmerman case and added, “I feel like this is such an irresponsible thing for our chief public safety officer of a county to do.  I think he owes this community an apology. And if he really believes that he’s not capable of providing for our public safety he should get a different job.”

Two responses to this:  1)  if I’m ever threatened by an armed assailant, the last thing I’ll be saying is “let’s be non-violent about this so I won’t be hurt”  2) if she thinks the Sheriff’s comment indicates a lack of confidence in his ability, then how does she feel about doctors who make suggestions on preventing disease and steps to treat symptoms if affected?

Enough of my thoughts.  We’ve heard of numerous accounts of individuals who protected themselves while waiting for authorities to arrive and secure the safety of the victims.  And it’s not just adults who are threatened.  There’s the story of the 12-year old girl in Bryan County, Oklahomaand the 14-year old boy in Phoenix who protected himself and his three younger siblings.Both had happy endings because they subscribed to Sheriff Clarke type of self-defense.

Perhaps Sheriff David Clarke, Jr. is making sense.

1 – Associated Press article, 1/27/2013, posted on  Read more:
3 – “…a young 12-year old girl in Bryan County, Oklahoma was able to protect her life when an intruder kicked in her back door and entered her house. Frantically, she called her mother who advised her to grab their household gun, hide in the closet, and call 911. The intruder made his way through the house, and as he was opening the door of the closet, the young girl shot him through the closet door. The intruder left the house and the girl was found unharmed. The police arrived and took the man into custody.”  (Celia Bigelow,, 10/20/2012)
4 – “A 14-year-old boy shot and almost killed an intruder who broke into his house and pulled a gun on him while he was babysitting his younger siblings on Friday.  The teenager and his three siblings, aged 8, 10 and 12, were alone at their Phoenix, Arizona, home when a woman the children didn’t recognise rang the doorbell at around 4.30pm.  Having been taught not to open the door to strangers, the kids, who have not been named, didn’t answer but after they heard a loud bang on the door, the boy rushed his siblings upstairs and grabbed a handgun from his parent’s bedroom.  As he got to the top of the stairs, he saw a man breaking in through the front door holding a rifle, which he proceeded to point at the boy. The teenager shot the 37-year-old intruder, then the four children ran to a neighbour’s home where they called police and their father.  The man, who didn’t get a shot off, was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center where he underwent surgery.  He remains in critical condition but is expected to survive and be booked into jail within the week, at which point his name will be released.  Police Officer James Holmes said the intruder would face aggravated assault and burglary charges.  The woman who rang the home’s doorbell got away, police said.” (from, 6/23/2012)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s