War of words between Clarke, Abele over bus safety

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says County bus riders are riding at their own risk, and he's blaming the recent uptick in violence on buses on County government, and a lack of resources for the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department to adequately police the buses. Meanwhile, the County Executive says the Transit System is actually getting safer.

Sheriff Clarke says he refuses to sugar coat the problem on Milwaukee County buses. Sheriff Clarke took a look at surveillance video of recent violent incidents on County buses and called the individuals involved "subhuman." "I wonder to myself as I watch video, who spawned these individuals?" Sheriff Clarke said.

The sheriff says video from December 12th shows several fights on a County bus among students at Vincent High School. Five of those students have been arrested. This is just one of many attacks in the last few weeks, but Sheriff Clarke says he has no money to increase security on County buses. "When they give you this 'the sheriff has all the resources he needs to effectively police the Transit System,' you look them dead in the eye and you are looking at a liar," Sheriff Clarke said.

Meanwhile, County Executive Chris Abele says Sheriff Clarke is misrepresenting the facts. Abele says despite the difficult video, County buses are actually getting safer. "The Transit System is safer now, than it was in 2006. That's about a 17 percent decline in reported incidents," Abele said.

Riders say they wouldn't mind seeing more security on County buses, but generally feel safe. "Not one time was I scared or afraid. I have merchandise, and I'm not worried," one rider said.

The County contracts with a private company to provide additional security on buses. Abele said its working, as overall incidents are going down.