Taxpayers footing bill for Milwaukee sheriff's pro-gun radio ads
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee County sheriff’s radio ads urging residents to learn how to use firearms so they can defend themselves are being paid for with taxpayer money, the sheriff told a newspaper.
Critics have said Sheriff David Clarke Jr.’s ads that began airing last month discourage people from using 911 and instead promote gun proliferation. Supporters say Clarke accurately described the need for citizens to take responsibility for their families’ personal safety.
Clarke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/VC11x0 ) in an email Friday that the ads are public safety announcements.
“Every penny we spend belongs to the taxpayers of this county,” Clarke wrote. “We use public funds on public education as a means to work with people on ways designed to keep them safe. It’s called crime prevention.”
Clarke’s department has an $84.9 million budget for 2013, with 85 percent coming from county property taxes. Most of the rest comes from state and federal funds. The exact amount being spent on the ads couldn’t be determined from invoices and other department records reviewed by the newspaper.
But Clarke’s office has agreed to buy more than $17,000 in radio ads this year, including the gun-themed ads. Last year, the department spent nearly $26,000 last year on safety ads.
In the spots, Clarke suggests the public can’t count on quick enough police response to an emergency 911 call, and should consider getting gun training “so you can defend yourself until we get there.”