Dane County Sheriff Gives Police Professionalism a Black Eye

In recent weeks, a group of left-wing activists, who call themselves “The Solidarity Singers,” have again decided to thumb their noses at the law by refusing to obtain a permit to illustrate their irrelevance by protesting in Wisconsin’s beautiful capitol rotunda.  Liberal narcissists—believing that their myopic opinions are somehow more enlightened than the majority of Wisconsin’s voters—trampling on rights of others, such as those seeking to get married in the rotunda, is nothing new.

More repugnant than Americans picking and choosing which laws they choose to obey is a high ranking law enforcement official injecting himself into the debate and using the color of his authority to run interference against the Capitol Police by siding, for political purposes, with the Solidarity Singers.

Conducting himself in a manner inconsistent with the concept of law enforcement professionalism, as well as own county’s ethics ordinance, is Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney.  Since 1979, when a bill approved by Democrats in the state legislature and signed by Republican Governor Lee Dreyfus became law, a FREE permit is required to hold rallies inside Wisconsin’s glorious state capitol.

But Sheriff Mahoney apparently is of the opinion that unlawful conduct is acceptable if the lawbreakers are on the left side of the fence politically.

In late July, Mahoney appeared in the Capitol Rotunda and proclaimed, “I’m here to join alongside the Solidarity Singers. This is an example of freedom of speech. It’s an example of people coming together in solidarity for what they believe in.”


Absolutely no one is preventing the Solidarity Singers from obtaining the permit needed to occupy and disrupt a facility where official government business is conducted, including weddings and tours for school children.

“The permit is free and the group could continue to say and sing the same things they are today,” said spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis, who, according to WISN radio, noted that the Capitol Police have stated they would approve a permit if the Solidarity Singers applied for one.


Then, on August 1, Sheriff Mahoney appeared on Mitch Henck’s WIBA-AM in an attempt to explain how he “isn’t on the side of the Solidarity Singers” and that he would “never encourage anyone to break the law.”



A hunch says that Sheriff Mahoney began getting blow back from the Capitol Police and others who truly believe in the concept of professional law enforcement. Ironically, the Dane County Sheriff boasts on his department’s official Web site  that, “We continue to make strides toward becoming the most professional, efficient, and cost effective agency employing progressive solutions to the ever-changing challenges facing our communities.”


In reality, by championing the cause of the Solidarity Singers and encouraging them to violate state law, one could make an argument that Sheriff Mahoney is in violation of Chapter Nine of Dane County ordinances that govern the ethical practices of elected officials.

Chapter 9.10 (1), STATEMENT OF POLICY, states, “The proper operation of democratic government requires that county officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible to the people…”


If Sheriff Mahoney chooses to violate the law and encourages others to do so, the Capitol Police should treat him like any other law breaker.   Wouldn’t it be more than just a little ironic if officers arrested Mahoney and then booked him into his own jail?

Moreover, Dane County residents upset with Sheriff Mahoney’s lack of professionalism might want to file a complaint with the Dane County Ethics Commission.


Unfortunately, law enforcement officials violating policy and/or ethical standards by using the color of their office for political purposes is nothing new in Dane County. On March 13, 2011, the Spingola Files reported that Madison Police Department Sergeant Dave McClurg openly identified himself as a Madison police official while siding with protestors who had unlawfully occupied the state capitol. Even though the below video of McClurg that openly violates Madison PD policy is still posted online, the sergeant—apparently championing a cause his police chief and city officials sympathize with—was NEVER disciplined.


Responding to criticism of his lack of professionalism, McClurg posted a March 20, 2011, reply at the Spingola Files pleading poverty by stating, in part, “I don’t know about any of you but I’m still struggling at times with three kids, one in college. I don’t feel like the one of the haves I work off duty to pay the bills.”


For struggling Americans, some of whom work from January through the middle of May each year simply to pay their tax obligations; McClurg’s comments illustrate the arrogance and the sense of entitlement of some public employees.  A database of City of Madison employees’ salaries shows that McClurg earned $94,274.22 in 2010 and $94,113.61 in 2012.  His wife is a public school teacher, which means the McClurgs’ employment earnings probably topped a $135,000—not to mention the generous health care and pension benefits often unavailable to the private sector employees who pay his family’s wages and benefits.


While the Mahoneys and McClurgs in the bizarro world of Madison (not to pick on Irish-Americans) have used the color of their office to influence political perceptions free of any official consequences, the taxpayers, many of whom earn only a third of what McClurg does, are taking notice.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.


If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

2 Responses

  1. Glenn D. Frankovis

    Mahoney is an embarrassment to the profession. As for the whining about Walker and Act 10 coming out of McClurg and others you and I know who are active and retired, I say it’s really kind of hard to convince a neighbor that you’re not getting paid enough when you have a guaranteed job, two brand new Suvs in the driveway of your $200,000 house, a big boat and a vacation home up north, and the neighbor doesn’t know from one day to the next if he’s going to have a job. Reminds me of something a Sergeant I worked with back in 1990 told me when we were talking about guys who say, “This job sucks”. He said those guys need to tell that to their fathers after they explain what they’re getting paid and the benefits they’re receiving. The problem is that so many of these people haven’t got a clue what it’s like on the outside where you are actually expected to work for a living or get fired.

    August 5, 2013 at 12:01 am

  2. Darlene Johnson

    Steve, You said it all. I cannot add a thing except thank you for the website information and for contacts and God bless you and all you do.

    August 5, 2013 at 1:16 am

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