NEW INFORMATION: Woman brought up Sheriff's message after admittedly firing gun

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee woman accused of firing a gun says the sheriff said it was OK for her to arm herself.

Police approached 36-year-old Makisha Cooper Saturday about firing a gun. Cooper told police she heard Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. on the radio "that she could own a gun to protect herself."

Clarke aired a radio ad last week telling Milwaukee-area residents not to count on a rapid police response to 911 calls and instead to take a gun safety course.

Cooper told police she fired a gun once outside a house after getting into a fight with her niece.

In a statement, the sheriff says "there is no parallel" between this case and what he said.

The Journal Sentinel reports Cooper is charged with two misdemeanor counts.
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- When calling 911 is not enough, get a gun. That’s what the Milwaukee County Sheriff says in a controversial public service announcement.

Sheriff's David Clarke’s message is getting reaction from all over the country.

It's an approach some see as a "scare tactic;” learn to handle firearms, in case deputies can't respond in time.

The radio ad has aired just once since Thursday and already it's striking a nerve with some people including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. He says it sounds like Sheriff Clarke is auditioning for the next 'Dirty Harry' movie.

Still, it's a message a lot of sheriff's departments can relate to in times a budget cuts, even in Eau Claire County.

In the ad, Clarke says “Simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. But are you prepared?”

The sheriff said you have a duty to protect yourself, so consider taking a safety course and use a firearm.

“You have some other options and that’s why in the ad I say you can hide under the bed, you can beg for mercy if you get a gun stuck in your face on the streets,” he said in a radio interview with WTMJ News Radio, “but also you have this option of fighting back.“

Clarke went onto say “if” you do want to fight back, you should be prepared.

Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said he understands where Clarke is coming from.

“I hear a bit of frustration in the sheriff's voice, I really do. He's saying, I want you people to talk about it and are you willing to risk your safety for laying off 41 deputies or should you be calling your county board supervisors?” said Cramer.

Cramer went onto say Clarke’s approach was bold but sent out the message.

“Could the PSA been constructed a little bit different? Saying, folks we're finding out our response time went from five minutes to 20 minutes on an average so therefore you might have to do something to protect yourself in the interim, without having to say it’s time to join our team and pick up a gun,” said Cramer.

In the PSA Clarke said, “Consider taking a certified safety course on handling a firearm so you protect yourself until we get there.”

The PSA falls back on the Castle Doctrine which was signed into law in Wisconsin two years ago.

“Prior to the Castle Doctrine being adopted in Wisconsin, a person could break into your house and say I’m not here to hurt you, I’m just here to steal your big screen TV and your Wii and I’m going to leave but I’m not going to hurt you,” said Cramer.

But with the law, things change, said attorney Harry Hertel with Hertel Law.

“The Castle Doctrine basically says, if there is someone who is a home intruder that gains access by violence that is threatening, the homeowner has the absolute right to shoot that person in order to protect themselves,” said Hertel.

Hertel added Clarke’s message is an unexpected one.

“For law enforcement to actually encourage that is unusual in large part because there is a fear that citizens won’t use the good judgment that the law enforcement officer should or would,” said Hertel. “There are always cases that involve mistakes and judgment. Water Street is known for having occasionally dispensed students or other folks from the bars who then head into what they think is their home, the front door’s open, they wander in. At least under the Castle Doctrine if that’s viewed as a violent entry into the home, the person is subject to being shot and killed.”

Attorney General JB Van Hollen’s office sent WEAU a statement regarding the PSA, saying Van Hollen believes strongly in both the 1st and 2nd amendments.


(AP) - A Wisconsin sheriff says he released an ad calling on residents to defend themselves because the old model of having a citizen call 911 and wait for help isn't always the best option.

In the ad, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. tells residents that when it comes to personal safety: "I need you in the game." He urges citizens to learn to use firearms so they can "fight back" until authorities arrive.

The ad has drawn sharp criticism from other area officials. The president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs' Association, Roy Felber, says it sounds like a call to vigilantism.

But Clarke says he can either whine about budget cuts that have reduced the number of deputies or call on citizens to work with officers in some situations.
To hear the message, click on the link below, and scroll down the page to the "In the News" section. The link to the audio is titled "- January 2013 - Click here to listen to Sheriff Clarke's personal safety public service announcement."

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