Milwaukee County, Wis., Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. made waves last week after releasing a radio ad urging citizens to arm themselves, rather than relying solely on police in case of an emergency.
“With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option,” Sheriff Clarke said in the ad spot Thursday. “You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back.”
The sheriff urged citizens to take gun-safety courses and handle a firearm “so you can defend yourself until we get there.”
“You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?” he asked.
Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs’ Association President Roy Felber told The Associated Press that it sounds like a call to vigilantism, while a spokeswoman for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said it sounded as if Sheriff Clarke was “auditioning for the next ‘Dirty Harry’ movie.”
“I’m not telling you to ‘Hey, pick up a gun and blast away,’” the sheriff told the AP in defense of the ad. “People need to know what they are doing if they chose that method — to defend themselves.”