A Wisconsin sheriff has drawn criticism from other public officials for a radio commercial telling residents not to wait for authorities to help them and to arm themselves for protection.
According to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. can be heard in the ad saying, “With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back.”
Clarke also encourages residents to sign up for firearms training courses, saying, “I need you in the game,” and, “We’re partners now. Can I count on you?”
The ad, which aired at least once on Friday, was quickly lambasted by Milwaukee leadership. A spokesperson for Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement, “Apparently, Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next ‘Dirty Harry’ movie.” And Alderman Michael Murphy called Clarke’s commercial irresponsible.
“This type of strategy of telling citizens, and inferring that we’ve laid off police officers in the city of Milwaukee, is simply not the truth and it’s wrong,” Murphy told WISN-TV. “We want citizens to be partners with us in fighting crime, but they should not be vigilantes.”
The police department in Greenfield, Wisconsin issued a response of its own, advising residents on its Facebook page that violent crime in that area was down, and that its department had not been affected by layoffs.
“The decision to arm yourself with a firearm is a very personal and private decision that should not be driven by fear that our officers will not respond to your calls for help,” the department’s statement said.
WTMJ-TV reported that Clarke defended his message to a local radio station, saying waiting for emergency response constituted “a very passive, ‘sheep mentality’ approach that just basically says, ‘Just succumb to your accoster,’ and I’m saying, ‘No, you have some other options.'”
Listen to Clarke’s radio ad, as posted online on Saturday by YouTube user ‘Ed Morrissey,’ below.