Milwaukee County, WI Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. made headlines earlier this year when he advised residents in his jurisdiction to take a firearms safety course and arm themselves against criminals while waiting for a police response.

More recently, he was in the news for suggesting that armed citizens who defend themselves with lethal force should get their firearms returned within 48 hours of being cleared of criminal charges. This occurred when he attended a packed house event at Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall on Milwaukee’s south side where a concealed carry class was being held just nine days after bar owner Andy Kochanski fatally shot one of three would-be robbers.

Sheriff Clarke said current procedures take away Kochanski’s freedom “to possibly have to act again tonight.”

“If Andy would have reached for the phone instead of his firearm,” the sheriff said, “we might been here today for a memorial service for Andy.”

Point Blank had spoken to Kochanski about one week after the shooting, and just a few days after the prosecutor had determined that he acted in self-defense when he fired.

Considering Sheriff Clarke’s background, it would have seemed unusual for him to not appear at the event, as he has been an outspoken advocate of armed self-defense for some time.

The 56-year-old sheriff grew up in Milwaukee and began his law enforcement career as a patrolman with the Milwaukee Police Department in 1978 at the age of 21. He later worked as a homicide investigator promoted to detective in 1989 and rose through the chain of command, as a detective lieutenant three years later.

He was promoted to captain in 1996 and became a commander of the department’s First District. Three years later he took over as commander of the department’s Intelligence Division.

In 2002, he was appointed sheriff and was re-elected to that position by wide margins twice, in 2006 and again in 2010.

“Clarke graduated summa cum laude from Concordia University Wisconsin with a degree in Criminal Justice Management,” according to his biography. “In May 2003, Concordia honored him with the Alumnus of the Year Award. Sheriff Clarke is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. This prestigious school trains law enforcement executives from all over the world, and provides management and leadership instruction. In July 2004, he completed the intensive three-week Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”

A member of the Milwaukee County Council Boy Scouts board of directors and several organizations, Sheriff Clarke came out candidly when he did a public service announcement early in 2013 that said this:

   “I’m Sheriff David Clarke and I want to talk to you about something personal: your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport; I need you in the game. But are you ready? With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family.”

Clarke’s message infuriated anti-gunners, but it made perfect sense to firearms owners who know that even with the best effort, police cannot be everywhere all the time, and it takes time for them to respond to emergency calls.

For his candor in explaining the obvious about firearms and self-defense, Sheriff Clarke is recognized as September’s Defender of the Month.

He lives on Milwaukee’s northwest side with his wife, Julie, a realtor, in a home they built. They are members of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist parish.