Deputy Sheriff’s Association demeans the department and all deputies by demanding praise for random accidents

MILWAUKEE (Aug. 1, 2002) --
Anyone who wonders why unions in this country don’t get no respect no more needs to look only to the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs' Association, which on Monday criticized Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke for failing to publicly praise a deputy injured while responding to a car crash.

In its statement, the association said Clarke did not acknowledge the work of Deputy Mike Kasal after Kasal was injured while sitting in his squad at the scene of an accident on I-43 last Thursday. Kasal's car was struck, and he suffered head, neck and back injuries. He was treated at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Wauwatosa and later released.

Clarke said on Monday: "Every time a deputy puts that uniform on, he or she is a hero. Just simply by coming to work, they're heroes in my eye. Everything they do above and beyond that, of course, I think they're superheroes. That applies to the deputy that was injured."

Sympathy is a human response to innocent suffering and injury, and Deputy Kasal’s circumstances fall within that category and it is too bad he was injured.

But for the union to demand praise for a deputy sitting on the side of the road is ridiculous.

To “praise” is “to express a favorable judgment of, to “commend,” according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, or “to glorify (a god or saint) especially by the attribution of perfections.”

Where do we draw the line for praise? Does a deputy who runs into a burning building to save a pregnant woman and six children deserve praise? Does a deputy who gets a splinter doing a crossword puzzle on a coffee break get “praise?” How about if he stubs his toe getting out of his car?

Where deputies do extraordinary work or take risks knowing there is a danger, and where that action was specifically related to work done by law enforcement professionals, praise may be warranted. But an accidental injury by a passive deputy doing routine service is not praiseworthy although it is too bad it happened. Praise is directed toward exemplary action, not random circumstances.

The association’s political commentary on this incident reduces the association, the department and the deputies by asserting it is appropriate and expected for the sheriff to hold them in his arms, rock them back and forth and reassure them of their praiseworthiness when random accidents occur.