The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office introduced its new Acting Sheriff today. Richard Schmidt has been with the Sheriff's Office since 1986 and will be replacing former Sheriff David Clarke until Governor Scott Walker appoints an interim sheriff.
"The former Sheriff and I have had a wonderful relationship," Schmidt said. "I owe my career to Sheriff Clarke."
Schmidt takes over for the often contentious Clarke. There will not only be a new sheriff in town, but a new tone for the office.
"I've worked with every major official," Schmidt said. "The mayor, chief of police, public defenders, county executive. I have working relationships with every single one of these individuals."
Relationships are something former Sheriff Clarke struggled with when it came to local officials. He had a well documented issues with Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele. Schmidt hopes to change that while he's in this position and he hopes to spread that positive relationship to the community too.
"My relationship with all people, black, white, Asian, whoever is excellent," Schmidt said. "I'm dead serious about this. If I find out any officers are in any way, shape, manner or form disrespectful to any group based on their ethnic, religious background, sexual orientation or otherwise, they're going to have a problem with me."
While his predecessor had very vocal, strong opinions he freely shared online, Schmidt says he won't be as active on social media.
"I don't Twitter," Schmidt said. "I'm not good with Facebook. If you show up, I'll hold a press conference. I'm more than happy to meet one-on-one. If you have questions, I intend to be very open as long as I'm here."
Schmidt intends to do what he can while he holds the position. He's already called in the National Institute of Corrections to review jail operations. His second initiative is to try and cut the projected $5 million deficit the department faces this year.
"I turned a $6.5 million deficit into a surplus (as jail administrator)," Schmidt said. "Friday morning, I called the budget director and froze every single account in the Sheriff's Office. I want to get spending back under control and do what we can do to get the budget out of red ink."