Celebrity black sheriff joins Trump administration

David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, speaks at the NRA-ILA's Leadership Forum at the 146th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 28, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.
David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, speaks at the NRA-ILA's Leadership Forum at the 146th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 28, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - David Clarke, the cowboy hat-wearing black sheriff who gained fame for his support of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, said Wednesday (May 17) that he will join the administration as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.

Clarke told media in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he is county sheriff that he will work in the Office of Partnership and Engagement, which liaises with state and local law enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security would not confirm the appointment, saying that only the secretary makes such announcements and none had been made.

In the election last year when African-Americans largely opposed Trump, Clarke, who sometimes parades down the street on horseback, courted strong criticism from fellow blacks nationally for his support for the Republican.

But he has won local elections for sheriff with solid report from Milwaukee's black community.

He is known for his hard line on crime and promotion of gun rights, which has made him popular with Republicans.

But he recently came under criticism after a prisoner died from dehydration in his Milwaukee jail.

On May 1, a jury recommended that seven jail employees be charged in the April 2016 death of Terrill Thomas, 38, who was deprived of water for a week as punishment.

Local media reported Clarke was outraged when a coroner ruled the death a homicide.

Thomas was one of four people who reportedly died in the jail last year.