Sheriff Clarke defends handling of presidential visit

CREATED Feb 17, 2012

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MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke fired back after harsh criticism from city leaders about security detail provided during President Obama's visit on Wednesday. 

Clarke said Common Council President Willie Hines should be more focused on issues like black unemployment, problems in the public school system, high poverty and infant mortality rates. 

"The political trick is, distract people from those problems and try to put the attention on something else, something as innocuous as a dignitary visit, and try to make a political issue out of that, so the people of the city of Milwaukee are not focused on the real problems.  And that's why I say shame on Willie Hines," said Clarke.

Sheriff Clarke tells our Charlie Sykes the reason he scaled back security is because the Common Council voted to slash his budget. 

"This budget year, knowing it's a presidential year, I asked for an increased amount of money for dignitary protection.  Not only did I not get an increase, they trumped that and totally eliminated it."

Clarke also said the role of local law enforcement during a presidential visit is a support role and that the Secret Service is grateful for any support it gets. 

"They realize it's a drain on local law enforcement resources and they know nobody is being reimbursed.  So I gave what the taxpayers of Milwaukee County could afford," said Clarke.