Wednesday, January 7, 2009

David Clarke: Does Not Work Well (With Others)

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is a busy, busy man.

Not only is he busy helping drunk drivers out of snowbanks, finding scapegoats to take the limelight off of him, and defending himself in multiple lawsuits, he has found a new fiefdom that he can try to lord over, the House of Correction.

He has already started out on the wrong foot by putting the correction officers in harm's way. As he did with the County Jail, he is proving that he knows nothing about running a correctional facility. He is putting both officers and inmates in danger by not having sufficient staff available in case of an emergency.

Not only that, but like he has repeatedly done with his own deputies, he has shown a complete disregard for contracts and civil service codes. How is that the County's top cop repeatedly ignores the law? That must explain why he is always wearing that black cowboy hat.

But when the union points out that he is endangering everyone's safety, he channels into his inner Scrooge:

When told the officers' union was complaining about the staff shuffling, Clarke said: "Tell whoever is bellyaching to stop their whining. If they don't like the change, they can find some work somewhere else in the weak economy."

Correctional officers must "do what I need done," regardless of their formal job descriptions, Clarke said.
Actually, I think Clarke is correct in not caring what the COs think of him. He is not there to be liked, but to run the place. Unfortunately, he is not running it correctly, and that is where the trouble lays.

Clarke's argument for his misguided policy is that he is trying to cut overtime costs. That is a fine and worthy goal. Unfortunately, if that is indeed his goal, he is going to fail miserably. With less officers, of any rank, available to help quell fights and handle other emergencies, people are going to get hurt. If it is an inmate, you know that this policy will open the door to a lawsuit that the County would surely lose.

If it is an officer that would get hurt, then he or she will probably be off of work for a while, thereby shorting the staffing levels even more, until he has no choice but to jack up the overtime.

Either way, the tax payer loses bigger than if he did his job correctly in the first place.

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