PolitiFact Wisconsin: Did Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke reduce his staff by half?

Posted at 7:37 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 20:37:13-04

It's a bold claim that suggests Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke reduced his deputies staff by half.

PolitiFact Wisconsin puts the numbers to the Truth-O-Meter.

Sheriff David Clarke and County Executive Chris Abele have clashed over budgets and battled on other issues.

This week Abele went after Clarke's tough talk on crime with this claim .

"Abele says says that before he ever took office, Sheriff David Clarke reduced the number of sheriff's deputies by more than half," said Tom Kertscher with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Abele suggested the number dropped from "about 700 something to 300 something."
PolitiFact Wisconsin looked at the numbers.

In 2002, the year Clarke was elected, there were 649 deputy positions authorized for his office.

By 2011, the year before Abele took office, the number of deputies dropped to 328.

"So Abele's a little high on the numbers. There was a reduction about half, not more than half," Kertscher said.

In fact, it was a difference of 321 deputies.

But PolitiFact Wisconsin points out there is an important footnote to the numbers - 200 of those jobs were part of a gradual cost savings transition from county jail deputies to lower paid correctional officers.  
"Roughly two-thirds of those people were replaced," Kertscher said. "They were deputies who worked in the jail and they are replaced by correctional officers who are lower paid."

PolitiFact Wisconsin rated Abele's claim Half True.

For the record, PolitiFact Wisconsin reports the Sheriff and County Executive can make budget and staffing suggestions but it is the County Board that ultimately approves the county budget.