MILWAUKEE - Patrolling the freeway, guarding the airport, and running the county jail. The Milwaukee County Sheriff is in charge of that – and county voters are getting ready to pick the next top cop of the county.
Three Democrats, all current leaders of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, are looking to take over for retiring Sheriff Earnell Lucas. Since no Republicans are running, when voters cast their ballots in the primary on Tuesday, Aug. 9, the competition ends; the Democratic primary winner will face no opposition on the ballot in the November election.
"I’ve been with the agency since 1997," said Capt. Thomas Beal, candidate for Milwaukee County Sheriff.
"I currently command our Investigative Services Bureau," said Inspector Brian Barkow, candidate for Milwaukee County Sheriff.
"With the Milwaukee Police Department, I retired after 25 ½ years," said Chief Deputy Denita Ball, candidate for Milwaukee County Sheriff.
The Wisconsin Constitution says the county sheriff is to maintain law and order and preserve the peace. FOX6 asked each candidate what they would do differently as sheriff to fight crime in the county.
"We would coordinate, communicate and share data so that as we are mobilizing our forces we can better address issues that are occurring," Ball said.
"Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere all the time. But using data, and evidence-based decision-making models, we can combat areas that have higher levels of incidence," Barkow said.
"One of the biggest things I really want to do is partner with all the municipalities and jurisdictions; come up with a task force to work on the stolen vehicles, to work on the reckless driving, to work on the senseless homicides," Beal said.
The sheriff's deputies patrol the interstates. FOX6 News asked the candidates how they will crack down on reckless driving.
"The biggest thing is actually not putting more deputies out there, but putting them out there in a more targeted fashion," Beal said.
"Once again, it’s about deployment strategies. We can’t be everywhere all the time. But we can use our data in a much more efficient and effective matter," Barkow said.
"I believe a lot of crime is a crime of opportunity, so if we don’t give them the opportunity, because they see us all over the place, then I think that is going to help to deter crime," Ball said.
In just two weeks, Milwaukee County will decide: Ball, Barkow or Beal, the three Bs, with the same employer, and some of the same ideas. Voters will pick only one of these Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office brass to be the new sheriff in town.
FOX6 spoke with each of the candidates. Some of the other questions asked about defunding the police by reallocating some of the Sheriff's Office funds to other community services; preventing suicides in the jail; staffing shortages; and community relationships. You can watch the full interview below.