Five Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputies tasked with catching fugitives could lose their jobs if their positions are transferred to the District Attorney’s Office.
The transfer, proposed in County Executive Chris Abele’s recommended budget, was made because those positions were created to catch inmates who absconded from the electronic monitoring program at the House of Correction in Franklin or escaped.
District Attorney John Chisholm said he is willing to take on the extra work because it is similar to other duties investigators already perform.
The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors took the duty of running the House of Correction from Sheriff David Clarke last year after supervisors expressed concern that some programming, such as release on electronic monitoring, was not being offered. The sheriff later sued to regain control of the HOC, but a Milwaukee County judge dismissed the suit in May.
The transfer proposal in the budget would take more than $581,000 from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office budget. The money also is used to pay for two clerical positions in the office and would be used to pay for two additional DA’s office investigator positions to deal with child-support cases, according to Abele’s proposal.
Chisholm said he plans to use the positions to bolster his office’s witness protection unit. It is rare for a defendant who is being electronically monitored to flee from supervision, Chisholm said, so the investigators still would have time to work on other projects.
“Once you have those assets,” Chisholm said, “they’re not restricted to one thing doing that mission.”
Still, Sheriff’s Senior Commander Richard Schmidt said losing the positions would mean losing five highly trained deputies who are tasked with catching defendants who are wanted on warrants for violent crimes. It’s a fight Clarke is willing to pursue, Schmidt said, because those positions are badly needed.
“It’s essential that those duties remain,” Schmidt said.
The County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee is reviewing Abele’s budget proposal.