Born and raised in the City of Milwaukee, I played on the championship varsity basketball team at Marquette University High School. I went on to earn a degree in Criminal Justice Management from Concordia University Wisconsin, graduating summa cum laude. As part of my ongoing educational studies, I also graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy and the National Executive Institute in Quantico, Virginia.
Over the past three-and-a-half decades, my career in law enforcement has spanned multiple assignments. My journey of service began with the Milwaukee Police Department in 1978, where I helped protect the city for 11 years as a patrol officer on the streets. After promotion to Detective in 1989, I was assigned to the Homicide Division, investigating close to 100 homicides a year as part of a team and making arrests in over 80% of cases.
My leadership was recognized again in 1992, with a promotion to Lieutenant of Detectives, and in 1996, when I was promoted to the rank of Captain of Police, with assignments as Commander of the Crimes Against Property Division, the department’s First District (downtown), and the Intelligence Division.
In 2002, I won my first election as Sheriff with a margin of 64%. In 2006, I garnered 73% of the vote, proceeding to win 74% in 2010.
The fight has always been in the primary election as it tends to be hyper-partisan.
Like me, most people question why the Office of Sheriff is a partisan election. I have never asked a person to vote for me because I run as a Democrat. I ask them to vote for me based on my 35-year commitment to keeping citizens safe. Most voters get it when it comes to public safety. There is no Democrat or Republican way to be a sheriff. The enemy is not the opposing party; the enemy is the criminal.
The line between security and privacy is as thin as it is sharp. Early in 2013, I received an M.A. in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, completing my thesis on domestic intelligence operations and protecting privacy and civil liberties. The co-existence of freedom and safety may be the greatest challenge any leader will face, yet the balance is attainable. As an elected officer, I’ve devoted my entire life to finding and implementing this balance.
I firmly believe law-abiding American citizens do not deserve to be treated as random statistics. The Milwaukee Sheriff’s web page features an electronic Citizen Complaint Form where an officer from Internal Affairs will contact you to ensure those in authority are held accountable. The form reads, “Your input is a valuable tool that we use in order to provide the exceptional service that you – the taxpayer – pay for and should expect.”
My wife Julie and I continue to make our home in the City of Milwaukee.
2002 – Appointed Milwaukee Sheriff by Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum
2003 – Concordia University Wisconsin, Alumnus of the Year Award
2004 – Completed Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
2004 – Executive Development Program of the National Sheriff’s Institute participant
2005 – Completed Driving Government Performance: Leadership Strategies that Produce Results at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
2005 – Nominated to the FBI’s 28th Annual National Executive Institute
2009 – Studied with Police Chief William Bratton and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca
2009 – Americanism Award from the Milwaukee County War Memorial Veterans Board of Directors, in “appreciation for his version of law and order.”
2011 – Fulfilled a law enforcement executive training mission sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation
2013 – Sheriff of the Year Award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association for, “Demonstrating true leadership and courage…staying true to his oath, true to his badge, and true to the people he has promised to serve and protect.”
2013 – The High Noon Award, presented by Gun Owners of America
American Jail Association
International Association of Chiefs of Police
Major County Sheriffs’ Association
Badger State Sheriff’s Association
Milwaukee County Law Enforcement Executives Association
Legal Affairs Committee of National Sheriffs’ Association
Three Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee,
Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation
American Red Cross in Southeastern Wisconsin
My greatest achievement is: Being named Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association, Sheriff Of The Year for 2013 by my colleagues.
My favorite book is: My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir. The book spans the life of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from childhood in the Deep South being raised by his grandfather to his nomination as the second black justice to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court
My favorite TV show is: South Park, love its political incorrectness.
My favorite movie is: War Horse
My favorite childhood memory is: Going with my dad to watch him skydive
The person I most admire is: My Dad, David A. Clarke Sr.
Three words people use to describe me are: Confident, Consistent, Straightforward
The worst job I had as a teenager: I was raised to believe that no job is bad
The food I like best is: Italian especially cream sauce dishes
My favorite hobby is: Reading for knowledge
My goals for the year are: To be better at what I do today than I was yesterday…continually pursuing excellence
My favorite music group is: Country singer George Strait
My pet: Two of them, my Rottweiler Zoo-kess and my horse Ranger.
My favorite vacation place: Ixtapa, Mexico