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Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (D) isn’t mincing words in response to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel piece last week criticizing proposed overtime pay to staff in the Sheriff’s Office.

The criticized overtime costs, Clarke says, are in fact a result of a “crisis point” in staffing that County Executive Chris Abele (D) has neglected to address. Had Abele responded to Clarke’s 2014 budget requests for 137 additional officers, they could have saved $4.5 million in the budget. Clarke told RebelPundit.

The total projected 2014 overtime pay is $6.1 million dollars, all of which could be eliminated with actually less than the 137 officers requested in our 2014 budget…with proper staffing we could eliminate the projected $6 million dollars of projected overtime pay this year down to about $1.5 million.”

Clarke, who has been praised in the past by the same paper for slashing overtime costs from $4.5 million in 2008 to $1.8 million in 2009—and a 60% cut by 2010, said “I’m not going to let people get injured or killed,” because of philosophical disagreements Mayor Tom Barrett (D) and County Executive Abele have with him over how to make Milwaukee County a “safer place.”

Clarke added that he will not let the people of Milwaukee go “unserved to save overtime”:

It is my responsibility to make sure that motorists can receive a timely response and that we can keep drunk drivers off the road.  It is my responsibility to make sure that the courthouse complex is free from weapons getting inside and that court proceedings can go on without interruption.

I will not let a domestic violence restraining order go un-served to save overtime.  Regardless of the situation, the work of public safety still has to get done.

Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “25 Milwaukee County deputies earned more than $100,000 in 2013” and points out that the Sheriff’s Office paid out “about $5.3 million in overtime” in 2013. Their article highlighted criticisms from Abele, as well as Chris Moews, a Milwaukee police lieutenant (D) for “weakness” and an inability “to make tough decisions.”

But in 2010 the Journal-Sentinel wrote:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. should be applauded for turning around the once troubled House of Correction.

He took the jail, renamed it the Milwaukee Correctional Center-South Facility and addressed the problems of massive staff overtime and serious security problems.

Is the facility perfect? No, but Clarke definitely has things headed in the right direction since a 2007 inmate escape, which prompted the review.

Clarke says in his time as Sheriff, he has balanced every budget and in most cases turned back surpluses.

A spokesman for the county executive said, “Abele is willing to work with the sheriff, if a realistic case for extra positions is made.”

Whether Abele’s statement was made in good faith remains to be seen; Abele donated $3,000 in November 2013 to the same critic Moews who is expected to challenge Sheriff Clarke–who has 35 years experience in law enforcement–in the upcoming 2014 county sheriff election.

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