Sheriff David Clarke announced on Wednesday that he will leave Milwaukee to take a job with the Trump administration, as an assistant secretary with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Clarke mentioned the appointment during an interview on WISN Radio saying he was looking forward to joining the Trump administration. The appointment would not require Senate confirmation.
For years, Clarke has been a favorite of conservative media and campaigned for President Trump during the 2016 election. It had been rumored that Clarke was in the running for several appointments within the new administration.
Clarke would be leaving the Sheriff’s Department on the heels of an inquest jury recommending that criminal charges be filed in the case of a man in the county jail who died of dehydration after staff had turned off his water for seven days.
Following Clarke's announcement on Wednesday, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele issued a statement reading, "I’ve said repeatedly that Milwaukee deserves better than Sheriff Clarke. America does too."
Abele says he is excited about the prospect of working with a new sheriff who might find evidence-based solutions to improve public safety and reduce the number of people in jail. "The last thing America needs," according to Abele, "is another loud voice angrily and unproductively telling you who to blame and who not to trust."
The group Voces de la Frontera which has been challenging Clarke for his tough stance against unauthorized immigrants also reacted to his planned departure as sheriff. Voces' statement reads: "Clarke is unfit for any office and should face criminal charges for the deaths and abuses at the jail. Trump's appointment of Clarke shows this administration's disregard for human rights. Scott Walker must appoint a sheriff who will withdraw from 287g, end collaboration with Trump's campaign of mass deportation and terror against immigrant families, and support reforms to prevent deaths and abuses at the Milwaukee County Jail."
If he remained Sheriff, Clarke would face re-election in 2018. One person mounting a campaign is Earnell Lucas, a former captain with the Milwaukee Police Dept. and vice president of security with Major League Baseball.
Lucas released a statement on Wednesday saying he will submit his name to Governor Walker to be considered as an appointee for the position. Lucas says he still plans to run for a full-term in 2018.