Mayor Barrett responds to Sheriff Clarke's PSA

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is responding to a new public service announcement voiced by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

In the PSA, Sheriff Clarke says, "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. But are you prepared?  Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there."

Mayor Barrett referred to the PSA Saturday as "fear mongering."

"What was most disturbing to me is if there's an emergency, I want people to call 911.  And to have the Sheriff just put out what I consider to be a public disservice announcement, discouraging people from calling 911, it's just wrong," said Barrett.

When asked if he would speak with Sheriff Clarke about the ad, Barrett said there's no use.  He said the Sheriff wanted attention and publicity and has succeeded in getting it.

The mayor also reacted to a statement released by the Sheriff on Friday, claiming Mayor Barrett would have benefited from "a firearm and a plan of defense" when he was attacked outside State Fair Park back in 2009.

"Harry Truman had a statement about dealing with McCarthyism.  He said, 'I'm not gonna get in the gutter with that guy.'  That's my view on that," said Barrett.

On the Milwaukee's south side, some say they're worried the sheriff's PSA will lead to more gun violence.

"I think he opened the door to worse things coming in the future," said Alex Precaado.

Others say the Sheriff is pointing out real problems with the city's 911 response times.

"One time it was five hours I called, and nobody came," said Miguel Cossylun.

A spokesperson for the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said Clarke was unavailable to comment on the PSA on Saturday.  She said he has other commitments that prevent him from doing TV interviews at this time.