Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Who's Really "Afraid," David?

We had earlier mentioned an exchange of correspondence with the Milwaukee County Sheriff regarding the "security paranoia" he oversees at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Damn lucky I don't live in the County--or worse, work for Clarke.

In David Clarke's world, David Clarke gets his own personal 2-man armed escort when visiting the airport. Irony abounds: first off, Clarke's very own security procedures are in place at the airport--isn't he "safe" there?

Secondly, after a deputy wrote an editorial which questioned Clarke's 'personal bodyguard' needs, Clarke assigned him to '[v]isit every home and business in the area bounded by N. 10th to N. 27th streets and W. North Ave. to W. Burleigh St., ask whether there are any problems to report, encourage cooperation with law enforcement and record the details of every visit on a small tan card.' No squad car, no partner/backup.

Clarke's defense of this obviously retaliatory assignment is half-ludicrous--but the most delicious part is this: "...Clarke was telling reporters that his deputy... should stop worrying and be not afraid."

Uhhhh--David, who orders his own personal armed bodyguard to take him through the airport, is telling the deputy to "be not afraid."



Disgruntled Car Salesman said...

Whether or not Clarke is a hypocrite, he won't tolerate someone undermining him in his department. Good for him. As for me, yes, I am also glad that I don't work for him and that I won't have to walk the beat.

Dad29 said...

Well, we'll have to discuss the nature of authority as it relates to the case at hand.

Let us assume that the deputy's article questioned Clarke's assignment of personal bodyguards to himself at Mitchell Intergalactic Airport and his specific order that deputies do drive-by checks of Clarke's residence when Clarke is out of town, and that no other questions were raised, per the MSM take on the affair.

Clarke's authority as Sheriff certainly extends to assigning his deputies in any way he wishes (so long as such assignments are legally and morally acceptable.) Thus, his assignment of personal armed escorts at the airport, and 'spot checks' of his home are perfectly acceptable at first glance.

So far, so good.

In the case at hand, an employee of Clarke's took exception to the above assignments. Whether the criticism was from a fiscal standpoint (certainly, as a taxpayer, the deputy has standing) or from a personal standpoint (implying that Clarke does not have courage) is irrelevant.

While I think that a personal attack on the Sheriff is wrong, unjustified, and frankly stupid, the deputy spoke. It is STILL irrelevant.

The deputy did NOT refuse a lawful order, NOR did he encourage others to do the same. While it is clear that the deputy would like to see somebody ELSE in the office of Sheriff, that's a matter of political speech, still protected by the First Amendment.

In other words, the deputy did not "undermine" Clarke's authority in any substantial way; at the very worst, what he did was to suggest that the Sheriff is not using his authority correctly, and should be opposed in the next election.

It's a matter of opinion. Opinions are like, ah, noses--everybody has one, and we have the freedom to express them.

On the other hand, it is clear that Clarke has decided to "teach this guy a lesson," and Clarke so much as said so in this morning's newspaper when he stated that those who write about his assignments in a negative fashion will "be accountable."

The specifics of the punishment are well-known. The Sheriff has placed the deputy in an assignment in which the deputy will be at heightened risk, not the least because he will NOT have a partner. While the Sheriff argues that letter-carriers are similarly alone, letter-carriers are not charged with the responsibility of enforcing laws. If the deputy sees a violation, he must act; a letter carrier is under no such obligation.

I do not argue that the "community outreach" program is wrong. In fact, I think it has a good deal of merit. But it is clear that the program, as currently in practice, is seriously flawed.

Now we come to the nuts-and-bolts.

The deputy was well within his rights in writing his comments. While they offended the Sheriff, they were (apparently) well within the bounds of protected speech, and did NOT suggest nor condone disobedience of lawful orders.

When the Sheriff took offense, he placed the deputy in a position of elevated danger. This is wrong. It is petty, it is immature, and it clearly shows the "LEO/Fortress" mentality for which I have criticized Clarke before.

Disgruntled Car Salesman said...

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