MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke made the rounds on cable networks on Monday, January 28th to defend his choice of words in a controversial public service announcement released Thursday, January 24th.
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.”
CLICK HERE to listen to the PSA
County documents show Sheriff Clarke's budget is more than $3 million higher in 2013 than it was in 2012, and at least 29 of the 47 deputies laid off have been re-hired.
However, on Monday, January 28th Sheriff David Clarke defended the comments he made in his PSA on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."
"We're not putting any more guns on the street. The guns are already there. My message is for law-abiding citizens in certain situations, not to go out and enforce the law. It's an inside your home when the wolf's at the door and the intruder comes in or someone sticks a gun in your face when you're on the street to take your property, there's certain things you can and should do to protect yourself." Sheriff Clarke said on CNN.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett referred to the PSA on Saturday, January 26th 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.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he feels Sheriff Clarke is seeking attention.
"I think he probably was looking for attention and looking for press and he got it. I'll tell you what he wasn't looking for: he wasn't looking for a productive solution. If that's genuinely the issue of 911 service, there are far more productive, responsible and frankly mature ways to address it than the public service announcement we heard, which sounded like a movie trailer," Abele said.
Chris Haworth is a political consultant for both Democrats and Republicans. He has worked on Sheriff Clarke's last two campaigns and says the criticism is unwarranted.
"There's no doubt that Sheriff Clarke is not afraid of discourse. He offers ideas and solutions that are very bold. I guess I fail to see the connection of why we are criticizing someone who is coming out publicly and saying, look, you need to be personally responsible for not only your well-being, but your family's and the home you live in?" Haworth said.