Friday, April 28, 2017

Testimony sheds light on allegedly “deceptive” practices in jails overseen by Sheriff Clarke

A change in leadership is needed in the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department

Testimony in Milwaukee this week seems to suggest that there’s a cover-up going on at the Milwaukee County jail.

The jails are administered under the direction of Sheriff David Clarke. Earlier this week, I suggested that Clarke ought to be removed from his position by Gov. Scott Walker because four individuals had died under his watch at the county jail.

One of those deaths included an infant who was born to a woman who was in the jail. The mother’s pleas for help went unanswered, and the child died before medical attention was given to either.

Another of the deaths, involving 38-year-old Terrill Thomas, came about as a result of dehydration. Thomas was not given a sip of water for seven days while in solitary confinement.

A Milwaukee PD commander testified in court this week that it was “unconscionable” that members of the sheriff’s department had viewed video of Thomas but failed to let the city department know.

What’s more, the video itself was recorded over — meaning that anything that the sheriff’s department said was on the tapes has to be taken at their word.

From the Journal Sentinel:
“It’s unconscionable,” said Eric Donaldson, a homicide lieutenant who helped lead the probe. “It’s like you’re hiding something.”

Donaldson said that top Sheriff’s Office officials failed to tell him that a sheriff’s captain had viewed the video of a key portion of Thomas’ jail stay — video that officials say later was recorded over.

[Donaldson] didn’t find out until 11 months after Thomas died that [corrections Capt. George] Gold had seen the video, he said. Sheriff’s officials hadn’t even mentioned Gold, he said.

Chisholm dwelled on that point, asking Donaldson his reaction.

“To me, that’s deceptive,” Donaldson said.
A member of the Milwaukee police department is calling an action by the Sheriff’s department deceptive. At the very least, it’s indicative of a failure of leadership, which should have righted problems at the county jail long before four people died there.

Sheriff David Clarke ought to show some responsibility for his failed leadership, and offer up ideas on how he’s going to change things. And Gov. Scott Walker, who has already stated he won’t remove Clarke from office, ought to reconsider, in light of this and possibly more testimony detailing problems within the Sheriff’s department.

Failing that, new leadership ought to be selected by the citizenry — at the county level, as well as at the governor’s office — especially if no action is taken by either.

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