Sheriff’s PSA calling residents to protect themselves labeled ‘vigilantism’

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is coming under fire for an outstanding public safety message on personal protection.

In a radio ad quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Clarke told citizens, “You have a duty to protect yourself and your family,” and encouraged them to consider taking a firearm course for self-defense until police arrive.

In the PSA, Clarke offered the following message to listeners:

[Personal safety] is no longer a spectator sport. I need you in the game. With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. But are you prepared?

The “Castle Doctrine” allows Wisconsin residents to use deadly force to protect themselves when an intruder breaks into their home, business or vehicle.

But several officials told the Journal Sentinel they feel Clarke’s message goes too far, calling it a “call to arms.” Prepare to join me in some heavy eye-rolling.

“Apparently, Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie,” Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, told the newspaper.

“What (Clarke’s) talking about is this amped up version of vigilantism,” said Jeri Bonavia, the executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort. “I don’t know what his motivations are for doing this. But I do know what he’s calling for is dangerous and irresponsible and he should be out there saying this is a mistake.”

Clarke did get some support, though, including a humorous response from James Fendry, the director of the Wisconsin Pro Gun Movement, who told the Journal Sentinel, “It’s never been a great option (calling 911). Unless you can take care of yourself, you’re kind of SOL.”

“You’re not armed to be law enforcement,” he said. “You’re armed to protect your own life and the lives of your family until law enforcement arrives. Do not go on search and destroy missions in your home.”

Listen to Sheriff Clarke’s PSA here:

Watch Sheriff Clarke’s Monday interview on Fox and Friends:


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