Posts tagged “Sheriff David Clarke

Clarke v. Baldwin? An Election for the Ages

After thumping his opponent in the Democrat Party primary Tuesday, there is a lot of speculation about the political future of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.  Some talking heads think the sheriff will enter the race for Milwaukee mayor.  Others believe that after this term, Clarke will simply ride his horse into the sunset and take a talk-radio gig.

From SF’s perspective, Clarke needs to think bigger.  The sheriff might want to consider backing Bob Donovan’s candidacy to knock-off Tom Barrett and, instead, finish his term, accept a talk-radio spot, and then challenge Tammy Baldwin, who critics have dubbed Wisconsin’s “do-nothing” U.S. Senator.

Clarke v. Baldwin would be a classic match-up.  The ultra-liberal Baldwin resides, of course, in the ultra-liberal city of Madison.  Clarke lives in Milwaukee, where residents of the metro area roll-up their sleeves and are not afraid to get their hands dirty.  Baldwin lends de facto support to those who belly-ache about racial disparities in the criminal justice system.  Sheriff Clarke makes no excuses for criminals, regardless of their skin color.  Baldwin supports President Obama’s gun control initiatives; Clarke supports thug control.

Tammy Baldwin is not up for reelection until 2018, a non-Presidential year election typically dominated by right-of-center voters.   And liberals probably gave Sheriff Clarke’s state-wide name recognition a huge boost by throwing a kitchen sink’s worth of political resources at him, including a $150,000 from New York City’s former Orwellian, nanny-state  mayor, Michael “Big Brother” Bloomberg.

Traveling the state prior to last Tuesday’s primary, I was surprised to see how many supporters Clarke had in rural areas of Wisconsin.   By raising the sheriff’s profile, the Democrat Party can thank Tom Barrett, Chris Abele, WEAC, and Michael Bloomberg, for a surge in Clarke’s  out-state appeal.


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

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  and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014

Sheriff Clarke’s “Hollywood Voice” a Match for Talk-Radio


Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Jr.

One of the most polarizing figures in southeastern Wisconsin is Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. In a sense, Clarke is kind of a duck out of water—a law-and-order conservative who was elected to office as a Democrat in a liberal county, even though he often aligns himself with Republican office holders.

One would think, though, that the sheriff’s Dirty Harry persona would resonate well with members of his department’s rank-and-file and other county sheriffs, especially his unrelenting, mano-a-mano efforts to thwart the gun-grabbers.  Instead, Clarke’s take-the-bull-by-the horns management style has alienated those who should be his biggest supporters, namely the deputies whose jobs he has fought obstinately to spare from the chopping block.

Having worked with David Clarke in the Milwaukee Police Department’s homicide unit, I am well aware of his passion for victims’ rights and his respect for the values enumerated in the Bill of Rights.  Philosophically, when it comes to the role of law enforcement and public safety, there’s probably not a dime’s worth of difference between Sheriff Clarke and I.  That being said our styles of management are the antithesis of each other’s.

Whereas, Clarke—an official elected by the public—embodies a top-down approach to organizational leadership, I generally prefer to delegate the administration of most tasks to qualified managers and/or subordinates.  After all, the sheriff, the chief-of-police, captains, and, to a lesser extent, shift commanders, are department heads or managers who just so happen to carry guns. Their primary focus should consist of fostering relationships with those controlling their department’s budgets, setting the agency’s agenda, getting buy-in from those under their command, maintaining discipline within the ranks, and communicating effectively with the public.

No doubt, on occasion, high-ranking law enforcement administrators will have their differences with judges, the district attorney’s office, members of the media, and the mayor and/or the county executive.  Typically, though, smoothing out these differences behind the scenes enables an elected department head or a de facto political appointee, such a police chief, to further advance their agency’s agenda and improve public safety.

Whether it is out of frustration or an unwillingness to capitulate core values, Sheriff Clarke has aired a lot of dirty laundry in public—calling out Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers, claiming that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele suffers from “penis envy,” and apologizing in a letter to U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham for Chief Flynn’s antiquated and nonsensical testimony in support of an semi-automatic rifle ban.

Nonetheless, when given an opportunity, Clarke is a very effective communicator.  Even Piers Morgan made note of the sheriff’s “Hollywood voice.”

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to listen to Sheriff Clarke as he filled-in for Milwaukee talk-radio host Mark Belling during the show’s Five- O’clock hour on WISN radio.  If and when Clarke decides to retire his gun-and-badge, he most definitely has a future as a talk-radio host (to catch a short portion of the sheriff’s performance, click the link to the following Podcast):

No doubt, Clarke came armed with a lot more than the emotional rhetoric Chief Flynn regurgitated during an appearance before a U.S. Senate sub-committee.  In Milwaukee County, the sheriff noted, over a 12-year period only 44 percent of the cases brought to the DA’s office involving the straw purchases of guns for felons where charged, which resulted in offenders serving  an average of just seven months for a crime that carries a maximum penalty of ten-years in prison.

Personally, as far as WISN radio hosts are concerned, I would prefer to hear more of Sheriff Clarke and less from two of the other infrequently used fill-ins, whose attached-at-the-hip relationship to the special interest, Patriot Act-wing of Republican Party is rather dull and predictable.  If Clarke can broaden his repertoire to include other issues, his stock as a talk-radio host will rise exponentially.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

The Sock Puppet Cometh

Since his ascension to Milwaukee County Sheriff via appointment by then Gov. Scott McCallum, David Clarke, Jr. has never been afraid of controversy. 

The leaders of the sheriff’s rank-and-file union bristle at Clarke’s no-holds barred management style. Critics also claim that the sheriff is by no means a consensus builder. Yet one thing is certain: very few Milwaukee County residents can claim that they are unsure where the sheriff stands on issues of public safety.

In addition, it is no secret that Sheriff Clarke and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett mix like oil-and-water. The personalities of these two leaders, their political philosophies, and their management styles are the antithesis of each other.

Clarke, an African-American, is a law-and-order conservative; Barrett, who is white, is a touchy-feely liberal.

The mayor believes in leading by consensus, while the sheriff’s inspiration is Rudy Giuliani’s take the bull-by-the-horns style of leadership.

Barrett’s critics claim he is virtually invisible when it comes to critical issues facing the city. One of the mayor’s critics, WTMJ talk-radio host Charlie Sykes, notes that Barrett’s mug might appear on the side of a milk carton—a reference to a missing person. Clarke, on the other hand, is hands-on, very passionate about his public policy positions, and flamboyant in public. He is, on occasion, observed in cowboy garb while visiting Mitchell International Airport.

In the middle is Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a relative newcomer to executive office. A trust fund baby, Abele lacks any meaningful administrative experience, which, his critics argue, makes him little more than a sock puppet for Mayor Barrett.

One need not scratch too far below the surface to unravel the Barrett-Abele conspiracy to defund the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s office.

By state law, Sheriff Clarke is a constitutionally elected official.  In other words, unless the Barrett-Abele axis can defeat Clarke in an election, there’s not much Milwaukee’s liberal leaders can do to run the sheriff out of town. Instead, the county executive and the mayor have taken a different approach: minimizing Clarke’s ability to lead by gutting the sheriff’s budget.

Last year, Abele’s county budget resulted in significant layoffs of Milwaukee County Sheriff’s deputies, some of whom had nearly a decade on the job. This stab at Clarke reduced jail staffing to dangerous levels while using dedicated law enforcement professionals as pawns in a political power play.

The latest Machiavellian maneuver from the Barrett-Abele axis guts the sheriff’s budget by another $3.3 million by transferring patrols of the county parks from the sheriff’s department to local municipalities. The political scam, though, is in the details. Over $1.7 million—about 93 percent of the money dispatched to municipal law enforcement agencies to patrol the county parks in their jurisdictions—goes to one agency: the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). This even though the vast majority of county park real estate is outside the Milwaukee city limits. Suburban law enforcement agencies would each receive, on average, about $7,000 apiece.

Talk to law enforcement veterans from Milwaukee County and, almost to a person, they chuckle when asked about MPD becoming the county park police.

“Besides county parks, there are also city parks in Milwaukee, where Milwaukee police are currently assigned,” said one former MPD veteran. “What kind of patrols do these city parks receive? No more attention than any other block in any squad area. As such, one can see where this is going. Barrett and Flynn will take the $1.7 million paid by Milwaukee County taxpayers, including those living in the suburbs, to off-set the MPD’s budget, while doing little, besides patrolling the Lake Park and Bradford Beach areas.”

Suburban Milwaukee County taxpayers should voice outrage by Chris Abele’s sloppy wet kiss to Tom Barrett’s city budget. This deal is so bad that the term ‘sock puppet’ is too flattering a reference to Abele, although the other euphemisms offered by some former coppers to address the specifics of the Barrett-Abele political relationship are not fit for print.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012