Rep. Crowley calls on Gov. Scott Walker to remove Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke from office

Posted at 10:49 AM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-23 23:12:12-05

State Rep. David Crowley sent a letter to Gov. Scott Walker Monday asking that he remove Sheriff David Clarke from office.

According to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, Walker could legally remove Clarke. However, that's not likely to happen. The only alternative is for voters to collect signatures for a recall election.

Sheriff Clarke has refused to address four deaths inside his jail in 2016.

After the medical examiner in Milwaukee County released an autopsy report showing one of the inmates died from "profound dehydration," Clarke allegedly threatened to have the medical examiner's license pulled.

"I call on you to remove Sheriff Clarke for his willful neglect of duties, repeated inappropriate and incendiary comments, his promotions of violence, and use of intimidation against innocent civilians," Rep. Crowley said in his letter to Gov. Walker.

"Since April of 2016, four people, including a newborn baby have died at the jail under the supervision of Sheriff Clarke. In November, a court-ordered monitor of the jail reported that the previous three deaths all came from mistakes in medical care and/or poor monitoring of vulnerable inmates."

Sheriff Clarke also came under fire this month for how he handled an airline passenger who shook his head at him for wearing Cowboys gear on a flight back to Milwaukee from Dallas.

When Dan Black got off the plane in Milwaukee, he was met by six deputies and bomb sniffing dogs.

"Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out," the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said on its official Facebook page. "The Sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault."

Black filed a harassment complaint and claimed he never was a threat.

Sheriff Clarke then responded by posting a picture of Black on the sheriff's office's Facebook page. Under Black's picture, a post reads "If Sheriff Clarke were to really harass you, you wouldn't be around to whine about it."

Black's attorney and representative Crowley see this as a threat.

If Sheriff Clarke really felt "threatened" by a man who shook his head at him, why didn't he notify flight staff and police at the Dallas airport prior to take off? We emailed and called the sheriff's office multiple times to ask that question, but never heard back.

Under Wisconsin law, Gov. Walker can remove Clarke for "inefficiency, neglect of duty, official misconduct or wrongdoing in office".

"Whether Sheriff or any other position, if they are elected by the people, they're accountable to the people and the only time historically the Governor has gotten involved is if they clearly violated the law," Walker said Monday.

Walker then hinted that if people want Clarke removed, they'll have to vote him out of office.

"I believe it should ultimately be left up to the people of that jurisdiction," Walker said.

In order for a recall election to take place, whoever organizes the recall petition must collect at least 25 percent of signatures that were cast for sheriff during the last election.

The signatures must also be collected within 60 days.

In 2014, 332,264 people cast ballots for the Sheriff of Milwaukee County, meaning 83,066 would need to sign a petition approving a recall election.

You can read more about recalling elected leaders in Wisconsin here.

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