Profiles in Police Resistance: Sheriffs Finch and Clarke

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While one of the regular series on Liberty Pulse is entitled The Police Are Not Your Friends, there are many who are serious about their oath to the Constitution and defend your liberties. Around the country, county sheriffs and various other law enforcement officers are stepping up to resist unconstitutional overreach in gun control regulations. They’re simply refusing to enforce the laws.

Profiles in Police Resistance salutes these men, and we’re going to tell their stories as part of an ongoing series. Our first profile in police resistance is that of Liberty County Sheriff Nick Finch, who was arrested on a single count of official misconduct for his decision to release a man arrested for carrying a concealed weapon.  Finch was elected as Sheriff of Liberty County in 2012, and in March 2013 one of his deputies arrested a Liberty County resident for carrying a concealed firearm.

 

 

Finch released the suspect and destroyed the documents associated with his arrest.  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Finch on June 4, 2013, and Governor Rick Scott appointed an interim sheriff, Carl Causey, from the FDLE’s ranks to replace Finch. After being booked into the Liberty County jail, Finch was released on his own recognizance.

Public support for Finch has been overwhelming: Governor Scott’s office received 1,323 emails opposing Finch’s arrest, with just 3 emails in support of the arrest.  A Facebook page supporting his cause has received over 6,300 likes so far, and a rally for Finch took place in front of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.

In an interview with the New American, Finch declared that he would do it all over again, based on his beliefs in the Second Amendment.  Finch argues that the suspect, Floyd Eugene Parrish, was never booked. As sheriff, Finch believed it was within his discretion to decide not to charge Parrish.  Nevertheless, the FDLE and Governor Rick Scott came down hard on Finch, arresting him and suspending him from his position without pay.

Finch further alleges that in the two years he worked as a room deputy in Liberty County, he witnessed a variety of corrupt activities.  He believes that his stance against corruption the sheriff’s office motivated local politicians to use his decision to release Parrish against him with the FDLE.  In the aftermath of his arrest and suspension, Finch was hailed by Sheriff Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association as “the real deal.”

Finch and Mack are emblematic of a growing movement amongst police officers who oppose gun control laws as unsafe and unwise.  In a survey of 15,000 police officers by PoliceOne.com, 96 percent of officers said banning high capacity magazines would not reduce violent crime, with 70% of the officers opposing a national registry of legal gun sales.  Under 12 percent of the officers surveyed felt that the President’s gun control proposals would benefit officer safety.  91 percent of the officers supported Right to Carry laws, with 76 percent favoring armed teachers in the classroom.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr advises his constituents to defend themselves, and in a radio ad that generated national media attention, he urged his audience to take a firearms course because 911 was no longer the best option.  Predictably, the national media went insane. Clarke appeared on CNN’s Starting Point, where he stuck to his guns:

“There are certain situations — and I think most people get that — where 911 is going to be of no use. For instance, once the wolf is at the door, once the intruder is inside your home, once you’re on the street and someone sticks a gun in your face to take your car or your wallet, you don’t have the option of calling 911,”

In an interview with WISN-TV, Clarke said he agreed with Sheriff Richard Mack’s assertion that the federal government was the greatest threat Americans presently face. Not surprisingly, Clarke’s fellow Democrats in Wisconsin recoiled at the notion that the federal government was a threat.  When Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett went on Piers Morgan to insist that reductions in police ranks would not adversely affect safety, Sheriff Clarke provided a counterpoint by advising people to arm themselves. Morgan and Barrett sputtered in indignation, but Clarke’s point stood undiminished by their invective: you are your own best protection against criminals.

Clarke’s commercial encouraging citizens to take a firearms safety course was disparaged as “irresponsible” and “contentious,” as Mayor Barrett and Piers Morgan did their best to insult his position, authority, and even the sound of his voice.  Piers Morgan incredulously noted that his radio ad “sounded like some sort of John Wayne movie.”  Clarke pointed out that Mayor Barrett’s budget furloughed 4,500 officers.

As Morgan grew increasingly histrionic, characterizing Clarke’s agenda as a “Wild West” program, Clarke pointed out that he encouraged individuals to take a firearms safety course. Time and time again, Clarke and Barrett did their best to tag-team Clarke, and time and time again, Clarke rebutted their efforts to link his call for firearm safety education, responsible gun ownership, and self-defense to tragedies like Newtown.

 

Though Mayor Barrett argued in favor of gun control, the specific instance he cited involved an individual who had a criminal background, which was not what Clarke advocated.  Clarke advocated for law-abiding citizens to arm themselves in preparation for exigent circumstances when they would be unable to call 911, such as home invasions.  When confronted with a question about background checks for all gun trades, Clarke pointed out his support for prosecutors and judges hammering criminals with existing laws, as opposed to a continuing lack of enforcement that is pandemic in this country.

Rather than targeting criminals engaged in the commission of violent crimes against unarmed citizens, too often local, state, and federal law enforcement officials want to criminalize merely possessing a firearm on the part of ordinary citizens with no criminal record whatsoever. Moreover, they want to criminalize concealed carry, even though every state that has passed concealed carry laws has seen a drop in violent crime rates.

Nevertheless, when Sheriffs like Nick Finch and David Clarke Jr. speak out, the mainstream media and the intelligentsia are quick to condemn them as extremists.  The facts don’t matter, nor do their actual words and deeds when it comes to the gun control debate.  However, police resistance is growing against overreaching gun control laws that restrict the right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their homes.

jay batmanJay Batman is a graduate of the Texas Tech University School of Law, where he attained his J.D. in May 2013.  He completed a B.A. in English with a minor in Political Science at the University of Montevallo in 2002. He is employed with Dustin Stockton Political Strategies, LLC, and presently resides in West Texas with his dog and co-author, Buddy Love