Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ald. Bauman Condemns Sheriff's Fear-Mongering Over Transit Security

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke' s feat-mongering, as reported by The Milwaukee Journal was unproductive theater to amp up Clarke's budgetary and political battle with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Clarke's goal: reinforce his grandiose view of the Sheriff's Department as a one-person show in which Abele is perhaps an extra.

Bombastic, Gingrichian-style rhetoric about the atmosphere on the buses - - "horrible," Intimidating," and "frightening" - - and calling County Board Supervisors "co-conspirators" for daring to disagree with Clarke's budget demands did nothing for law enforcement or the viability of the bus system - - though no doubt Clarke's theatrics delighted his conservative talk radio allies who love the Sheriff and welcome any chance to disparage transit or Abele's leadership.

It's about time public officials begin calling out the sheriff over his latest Courthouse drama, and Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman, a long-time bus rider who represents a downtown, transit-connected district has nailed the issues in a posting on WisPolitcs:

First, it is increasingly apparent that no tactic is beyond Sheriff Clarke’s reach, as he is now attempting to scare tens of thousands of daily transit users by asserting that the transit system is “horrible,” “intimidating” and “frightening.” Apparently he is now willing to vilify the transit system to advance his agenda and, as a result, further jeopardize the financial viability of this taxpayer-funded public service by driving away passengers and prospective passengers.

As Chief Flynn pointed out in his recent testimony before the Common Council’s Public Safety Committee, the incidents of disorder and criminal behavior that occur on the transit system tend to be concentrated on certain routes at certain times of day which, as Chief Flynn pointed out, calls for surgical policing, not saturation policing with a huge deployment of sheriff’s deputies at a huge price tag which taxpayers cannot afford.

If this is Sheriff Clarke’s approach to transit security, I suggest he just get off the bus and stick to policing the freeways and staffing the courts and jails and leave the task of public safety in Milwaukee to the Milwaukee Police Department, which is perfectly capable of quietly and professionally performing the task of providing public safety on the transit system...

This is not how responsible elected officials behave, much less one of our top law enforcement professionals.

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