Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The cop who told the citizens of Milwaukee to arm themselves against violent criminals has now been crowned the “Constitutional Sheriff of the Year.”

Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. received the award Friday at the annual convention of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, or CSPOA, in St. Charles, Mo.

Clarke became national news in January when he released a Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office public service announcement inviting citizens to join him in the fight against crime by learning to defend themselves from it.

“Simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option,” the PSA states. “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. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?”

Members of the CSPOA were so impressed with Clarke’s PSA, and his defense under blistering scrutiny since releasing it, not even a tornado could stop them from giving him the award.

The ceremony Friday night was forced into a darkened service hallway that doubled as a tornado shelter, as violent storms ripped through the St. Louis area.

Undaunted, Clarke stood on a chair and thanked the CSPOA for their steadfast support of him after gun-control advocates and some constituents blasted him for advocating firearm ownership.

Clarke said though he’s a Democrat, he considers the CSPOA a “friend for life” for “having his back” during the fallout over the PSA.

Sheriff Clarke's acceptance speech in tornado shelter

In a speech earlier in the day, Clarke explained city lawmakers have tried passing a new ordinance to stop him from doing any more PSAs.

“So you know what I did a few weeks ago?” Clarke laughed. “I took out another $10,000 and made a new ad.”

Alluding to the criticism he received, Clarke continued, “At one point I asked, ‘What the h– button did you push, Clark?’ I expected blowback locally, not nationally. But I’m in now. There’s no going back.”

The PSA that started the firestorm can be heard below:

Other honors given out at the CSPOA conference include a first-time award for “Constitutional Sheriff’s Association of the Year,” given to Utah, where 28 of the state’s 29 county sheriffs have taken a public stance against new gun-control initiatives as violations of the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Stan Lenic of Albany, N.Y., was awarded “Constitutional Deputy Sheriff of the Year” for an incident captured on YouTube where Lenic was asked to arrest a woman in the airport for passing out flyers critical of the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA.

Not only did Lenic refuse to arrest the woman, but he also affirmed the woman’s right to exercise free speech and warned airport officials to leave her alone.

News coverage of the interaction, including clips of the YouTube video, can be seen below:

Clarke was also given the “High Noon Award” at the conference by Larry Pratt, president of the Gun Owners of America. The honor is awarded “for standing for truth when others run, for telling the truth even though politically incorrect.”

Pratt also awarded Sheriff Denny Peyman of Jackson County, Ky., the title of “Nullifier of the Year” for making it clear gun laws that violate the U.S. or Kentucky Constitution will not be enforced in his county, proclaiming, “You are never going to pull guns out of Jackson County.”

As WND reported, the CSPOA maintains a growing list of – at last count – 18 state sheriffs associations and over 450 sheriffs across the country already taking a stand against what they perceive as attempts by the Obama administration to enact unconstitutional gun-control measures.

As WND reported, Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is among those after telling a local radio host the federal government is “going to have a problem” if they expect him to confiscate guns from private citizens.

“I took [multiple] oaths of office, and they all say I will defend the Constitution of the United States,” Arpaio told Mike Broomhead of KFYI Radio in Phoenix, Ariz. “Now if they’re going to tell the sheriff that he’s going to go around picking up guns from everybody, they’re going to have a problem. I may not enforce that federal law.”

Broomhead pushed the man sometimes called “America’s toughest sheriff” even further, asking Arpaio if the feds passed a law banning ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, would his deputies confiscate such magazines?

“No,” Arpaio said. “My deputies, I said before, I’m going to arm all my deputies – a month ago I said before this – with automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons. We’re going to be able to fight back. … I don’t care what they say from Washington.”

The purpose of the conference is to equip sheriffs, peace officers and public officials with information and public support to carry out their oaths of office – specifically, to uphold the U.S. Constitution – recognizing that in the case of federal overreach, the county sheriff may be the last line of defense in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights.

“We are going to train and vet them all, state by state, to understand and enforce the constitutionally protected rights of the people they serve, with an emphasis on state sovereignty and local autonomy,” explains CSPOA Founder and Executive Director Sheriff Richard Mack. “Then these local governments will issue our new Declaration to the Federal Government regarding the abuses that we will no longer tolerate or accept. Said declaration will be enforced by our Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers.

“In short,” Mack says, “the CSPOA will be the army to set our nation free.”

Mack is more than familiar with fighting federal overreach. The former sheriff of Graham County, Ariz., in 1994 Mack joined six other sheriffs in challenging a provision of the federal Brady Bill placing the burden of its background checks on local sheriffs. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to strike down the provision.

Police Chief Larry Kirk of Old Monroe, Mo., told WND, “In the past few years we have seen many of the citizens of this country become concerned over the direction it has taken. We have watched personal rights being eroded and a disconnect developing between citizens and officers working in law enforcement.

“I wanted to find other officers that shared my concerns,” he continued. “I wanted to be able to work with our sheriffs and other peace officers in educating the citizens and others in our career field on the powers of the sheriff’s office and what is needed for us to stand on guard to protect our rights and those of our fellow citizens. The CSPOA is the organization at the front of this movement.”

Pratt told WND he supports sheriffs taking a tough stand.

“The county sheriffs need to act and make new deputies to stop federal authority in the counties,” Pratt said. “There is a misconception in our time that the court somehow is the arbiter of what is constitutional; that’s not true! Every official that raises their right hand and says they’re going to adhere to the constitution, seek to protect it to the best of their ability, ‘so help me God’ – that’s something that they’re all obligated to do.”

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