May 17, 2017 / 11:01 PM / 4 months ago

Controversial Milwaukee County sheriff says taking U.S. Homeland Security post

FILE PHOTO - Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke gestures after speaking at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. on July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an African-American who became a staunch critic of the “Black Lives Matter” movement and supported Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, said on Wednesday he has accepted a job as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Clarke told radio station WISN in Milwaukee that he would leave his post as sheriff next month to join the Department of Homeland Security.

The post would not require Senate confirmation.

Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Jenny Burke said no announcement on Clarke had been made, and said the role of assistant secretary must be made official by the secretary of the department.

Clarke said on WISN’s Vicki McKenna Show, “I’ll be a liaison with state and local governments and with the private sector, and one that’s really near and dear to me - liaison with the state, local and tribal law enforcement,” according to an online recording of the show posted on the station’s website.

Clarke’s office and spokeswoman in Milwaukee could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. He said on the radio show that he would work with local agencies that can feel neglected or ignored by the federal government.

FILE PHOTO - Sheriff David Clark addresses members of the National Rifle Association during their NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. on May 20, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo

The Department of Homeland Security, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, includes agencies that handle customs, border protection and immigration, the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and the Secret Service.

The Black Lives Matter movement grew out of protests over a number of police killings of unarmed black men in various parts of the United States. The movement has challenged the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.

FILE PHOTO: Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. departs after a meeting with U.S. President elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower New York, U.S., November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Clarke has labelled members of the movement “subhuman creeps” and called for its eradication. He spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July.

Critics have faulted Clarke for his management of a Milwaukee County jail where a mentally ill man died in 2016 of dehydration. An inquest jury recommended that seven employees of the jail be criminally charged.

Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California called Clarke’s appointment “a disgrace.”

“Sheriff David Clarke’s unconscionable record makes him unfit to serve,” Harris said in a tweet.

Reporting by Eric Beech; additional reporting by Chris Kenning

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