Friday, November 14, 2008

Sheriff Clarke's Decoy Maneuver: FAIL

Sheriff David Clarke has himself in a pickle.

It is no secret that Clarke has aspirations for a higher office than Milwaukee County Sheriff. Probably he is holding onto the hope that County Executive Scott Walker would beat the odds and become governor in 2010, and then he could run for the spot that Walker is currently neglecting.

But whatever his aspirations are, he has not been having a good week in positioning himself for them. First, there was the story that he tried to aid and abet a drunk driver, by trying to get him out of a snowbank last winter. When caught, he put the deputy who did her job under investigation, so that he didn't have to release all the incriminating documents. To make things even worse, even though the driver was drunk, he recognized that Clarke wasn't doing his job.

Taking a page out of Walker's playbook, Clarke decided to run a distraction play by accusing a dispatcher of inappropriately handling an emergency call from a woman who was getting beat up. The article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had something that raised a red flag for me:
The release did not include the date of the call or explain how the domestic violence incident was resolved.
Clarke's release would make it seem like that the incident was recent, but realizing that Clarke was emulating Walker, who held a video of a sleeping county worker, and only released it when he thought it was most politically advantageous, I was suspicious, and for good cause.

Channel 12 news did a little more investigative work that MJS, and found that the incident happened way back in August. Furthermore, the deputy that Clarke is scapegoating points out that he did not hang up on the woman has Clarke claims, and the video does show that the recording ends with a dial tone, which only would have happened if the caller had hung up. If the deputy had hung up, there would have been only silence.

Another interesting thing is that Clarke is indicating that he is seeking to have the deputy fired, but the Personnel Review Board's agenda shows that the deputy is only up for a suspension hearing.

In Channel 12's story, Deputy Busche indicated that he though that Clarke's statement was because he has filed a federal lawsuit against he Sheriff. He may be right. But even if he is, I think that is only a part of the explanation.

I think Clarke is also trying to take the attention off of himself and all the negative press he has been getting, by pointing fingers at something that happened months ago, so that he can preserve the facade of being competent in his job. But by waiting for months to talk about it, and then only issuing a press release so that he does not have to face the media, and by exaggerating what he has done, he has failed to do what he intended.

If you watch the video from Channel 12's news, at the very end, you can see them talking about the timing of his press release.

Since law enforcement agents are supposed to be held to higher standards, and the Sheriff to even higher standards than that, Clarke should do the honorable thing and admit his mistakes, and step down from office. Otherwise, he is just another hypocritical politician.


  1. I agree with you but for different reasons. With you everything is personal and you try to twist things into the worse possible light to suit you politically. By saying Sheriff Clarke was aiding and abetting a drunk driver is false. I am sure had he taken the time to do law enforcement 101 he would have realized the man was drunk and arrested him, but for some reason he didn't get that far, maybe he was caught up in the moment of trying to help someone. That in itself is an embarrassment. Should he step down because of it, no. However, this investigation of the deputy who did notice the man was drunk is very suspicious. I would like to know more details about it before coming to a conclusion on what is going on. If Sheriff Clarke is doing something unethical in regards to this deputy he is no longer useful to that department and should step down. But that is a big IF.

    Also, you refer to Busche as a deputy and he is a dispatcher. He handle the call completely wrong and deserves to be suspended. I don't know what his work record is like but if he has had numerous complaints he probably should be fired.

  2. Clarke was with the drunk driver for at least a half hour, trying to push and pull the car out of the snowbank, as well as trying to get the keys out of the locked car. I find it hard that Clarke wouldn't have noticed that the guy was blotto.

    For your other point, dispatchers are deputies and vice-versa. What was he wrong for? Trying to get her attention, or for getting hung up on?

  3. I don't want to argue the point, but if he (Busche) were a "deputy" it would say so in the link you provided. I highly doubt (although it is possible) that he is a sworn LEO. If he is a civilian dispatcher the distinction is an important one.

    What he did wrong was not call her back after they were disconnected, which is more than likely departmental policy (I'm guessing). He wasn't exactly effective in the way he communicated with the caller, and for that (at the very least) he should have retraining.

    There is no doubt Sheriff Clarke was wrong with trying to help a drunk driver but do you really believe he actually realized the driver was drunk? The only explanation I can give is he needs retaining too. He should get out from behind his desk a little more often.

  4. Your points about the dispatcher and/or deputy are valid.

    However, if the guy was that drunk, and reeked of booze, how could one not tell. Especially one that is supposedly trained in law enforcement and to recognize these signs?

    I don't think Clarke tried to abet the drunk driver out of willful maliciousness, but at best, he was willfully negligent, choosing to overlook what was right in front of him.

    If he failed to notice any of the signs, including the beer cans, then he does not even deserve to walk a beat, much less be Sheriff.