Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., is a lifelong resident of the City of Milwaukee. A Marquette University High School graduate, he was a member of the varsity basketball team that won the state private school championship in 1973.
His 35-plus years as a law enforcement professional began in 1978, at the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), where he served 24 distinguished years and acquired a broad range of experience. During his 11 years as a Patrol Officer, he received meritorious citations for felony arrests. He was promoted to Detective in 1989, and just nine months later was selected for the specialized Homicide Division, where he was part of a team that investigated more than 400 homicides in a four-year period. MPD made arrests in more than 80 percent of homicides, well above the national average of 60%.
Clarke was promoted in 1992, to Lieutenant of Detectives and was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau as Shift Commander of the Crimes Against Property Division, the Violent Crimes Unit, and again to the Homicide Division. In 1996, he was promoted to MPD’s command staff as Captain of Police, and soon became Commander of the Department's First District, located in Milwaukee’s business and entertainment center. Clarke’s goal was to provide a safe environment for the district’s employees, tourists, and patrons of the arts, dining and nightlife.
In 1999, Clarke became Commanding Officer of MPD’s Intelligence Division. The Division was responsible for producing and sharing intelligence, and for providing dignitary protection in conjunction with the Secret Service, the Department of State, and other federal agencies. Clarke also served as the Department's liaison with the United States Attorney as coordinator of the CEASEFIRE violent crime reduction program, and with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation.
In March 2002, Clarke was appointed Sheriff by Governor Scott McCallum, and eight months later was elected to his first four-year term, earning 64%of the vote. Sheriff Clarke is now in his third term, having been re-elected in November 2006 and 2010, increasing his victory margins to 73% and 74%.
Clarke graduated summa cum laude from Concordia University Wisconsin with a degree in Criminal Justice Management, and in May 2003, Concordia honored him with their Alumnus of the Year Award. Sheriff Clarke also 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 at Harvard University.
In October 2004, Sheriff Clarke participated in the 80-hour Executive Development Program of the National Sheriffs’ Institute, sponsored by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National Institute of Corrections in Colorado. Clarke returned to Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in April 2005, to complete the week-long executive education program entitled, “Driving Government Performance: Leadership Strategies That Produce Results.”
In 2005, Sheriff Clarke was nominated to the FBI’s 28th Annual National Executive Institute, a world-renowned leadership development forum for law enforcement executives conducted by recognized experts in leadership, media, ethics, international policies, intelligence-led policing, homeland security, and social, political and economic trends. The forums were conducted in weeklong cycles in Quantico, Ottawa and Gettysburg.
Sheriff Clarke traveled to Los Angeles in 2009, to meet with Police Chief William Bratton and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, and to study their operations. Of special concentration were LAPD’s CompStat system, a crime control and analysis model, and LASD’s detention services, large jail management, and emergency management operations.
In October 2009, Sheriff Clarke was honored to receive the Americanism Award from the Milwaukee County War Memorial Veterans Board of Directors at their annual awards ceremony. The board, consisting of 22 veterans organizations, historically has awarded civic leaders and community volunteers, and not elected officials. However, board members said they chose to recognize Sheriff Clarke in “appreciation for his version of law and order.”
In April 2011, Sheriff Clarke, along with a dozen American police chiefs and sheriffs, traveled to Israel on a weeklong law enforcement executive training mission sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation. There they exchanged best practices in areas including airport security, intelligence analysis and sharing, public spaces security, bomb disposal, border security, incident and media management, the psychology of terror, and terror financing.
Sheriff Clarke was honored in May 2013, with the 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.”
In September 2013, after completing a rigorous master’s degree program, Sheriff Clarke received an M.A. in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, in Monterey, California. The competitive 18-month program included 12 weeks of in-residence study, course work, on-line study and the completion of a thesis. As a postgraduate student, Clarke collaborated with national security officials on current policy, strategy and organizational design challenges in security studies, homeland security and defense. He wrote his thesis on striking a balance between domestic intelligence operations, and protecting privacy and civil liberties.
Sheriff Clarke is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Jail Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major County Sheriffs’ Association, Badger State Sheriff’s Association, Milwaukee County Law Enforcement Executives Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the National Sheriffs’ Association, serving on its Legal Affairs Committee.
He is an Honorary Chair of the Milwaukee Fellowship Open, and a past board member of the Three Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America, Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, and the American Red Cross in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Sheriff Clarke and his wife Julie Clarke, a Realtor, live in the home they built on the northwest side of Milwaukee.