Beware of blowback when messaging E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Here’s the thing about aggressive messaging and advertising for police agencies and associations- there are always unintended consequences. Cops have been asked to “more with less” for years now. Some law enforcement officials have taken to over-the-top advertising to call attention to budget cuts, layoffs and other issues. Consider the case of Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. His office stands to be decimated by budget cuts if a county executives plans go through.

.As the result of a previous round of cuts, Sheriff Clarke took to the airwaves to inform taxpayers that reductions in funding might make it impossible for an officer to respond to your emergency.

"I'm Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal: your safety."
…Clarke then complains about a lack of manpower and advises residents to handle the burglary, rape or home invasion themselves.

"You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you could fight back. But are you prepared?" he asks. "Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family."

Some wondered whether this messaging strategy would backfire.

After all, if the boss says no cops are available to answer calls for service and that people should handle their own protection, why would we even need cops in the first place. And if we do really need police, do we really need so many?

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele clearly does not think so.

According to a recent article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, his recommended budget for Clarke’s office calls for cutting $12 million and 69 positions, including 33 deputies.

Clarke has suggested the Abele is high on drugs.

"The document I've been asked to speak on — I wouldn't call it a budget," Clarke said in remarks to the County Board's finance committee.

The Sheriff says Abele's plan for his office next year "shows a lack of understanding of what goes on in my office," Clarke said.

When Abele released his 2014 budget last month, the sheriff said the county executive "has to be on heroin or hallucinating."

Sheriff's Inspector Richard Schmidt said the board should reverse Abele's plan to shift 911 communications to a different department; to pay the Milwaukee Police Department $950,000 to patrol the lakefront; and to transfer deputy training to the House of Correction.

Abele said his budget for the sheriff would provide the same or better services more efficiently.

"The decisions I make are based on the data and the facts," Abele said later Tuesday. "It's not personal; it's not political."

Clarke told reporters that the proposed officer training academy shift would not work because correctional officers can't train deputies or other sworn law enforcement officers.

The training building is adjacent to the House of Corrections in Franklin, but Clarke has retained authority over the training facility.

House of Correction Superintendent Michael Hafemann said the sheriff has not permitted him to use the building for anything. Schmidt, the sheriff's inspector, said Hafemann must contact him if he's seeking a change in policy.

All the back and forth and infighting led Supervisor David Cullen to declare: "This sounds so infantile I can't even believe it....I'm sick of wasting my time on this stupid stuff."

Clarke strongly objected to an Abele aide's remark that weapons were "stolen" from the House of Correction when Clarke gave up control of the Franklin lockup in April after a court decision.

"I object to that 'stolen' comment," Clarke said. "I don't steal."

Abele's office claimed that 30 Glock pistols, three K-9 dogs and other equipment valued at a total of $75,410 were removed from the House of Correction before Clarke gave up control of the facility.

But Sheriff's Inspector Schmidt said the guns, vests and dogs were removed from the House of Correction because they were purchased by the sheriff's office.


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