Sheriff Dave Clarke steps in for air marshals with unruly plane passenger

Speaking as someone who has to fly for business reasons on a fairly regular basis, I find myself hoping that I wind up with Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin on my next flight. While already quite well known in conservative circles, the Sheriff wound up making news again this month when a drunken, rowdy passenger began causing problems and intimidating other passengers on a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina. The good news for the disruptive flyer was that there were no air marshals on that flight. The bad news was the Sheriff Dave was and he wasn’t in the mood to put up with any nonsense. (Fox Business News)

Next time you fly, you might want to have this man on your plane – Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, took down a rowdy, drunken passenger on an American Airlines (AAL) flight bound for North Carolina over the weekend.

He joined the FOX Business Network’s Stuart Varney to describe what happened.

“This goof took the cabin over like it was his private jet. He was moving up and down the aisles, he was in different seats. He was intoxicated, cursing and swearing. It was very intimidating for a lot of the passengers and the flight crew on that plane and so I kept my eyes on him the entire time… I did [what] was instinctive in me; that was to protect and take action. And I just had to pick a spot, I didn’t want to have to be grappling with this guy for an hour,” he said.

Sheriff Clarke said reasonable force was required.

“Reasonable force” in this case consisted of issuing verbal commands (which were ignored and met with a flurry of insults) followed by pinning him face down in his seat and restraining him until he was in compliance. Clarke instructed the flight crew to alert local law enforcement to meet them when the plane landed. The police didn’t seem to have any problem with his impromptu law enforcement since one of the cops gave the Sheriff their handcuffs to secure the guy before turning him over. The suspect is awaiting charges in Charlotte.

This probably won’t be surprising to anyone who’s already familiar with the Sheriff. I had the fortune to meet him at CPAC this year, though he was under such intense media demand that I never did manage to wrangle him in for an interview at our booth. He’s not hard to pick out in a crowd, though. I never did end up getting a picture with him, but that’s probably for the best. I’m not sure a camera could have captured both of our heads in the same frame. Particularly with his ever present cowboy hat on, Dave towers over most crowds at a height of what I’m guessing must be around eight feet. (Okay… an exaggeration, but the man could probably play in the NBA.)

Critics will probably decry this as grandstanding, but I doubt he’ll get in any trouble over it. When there’s no assigned law enforcement on the scene and the law is being broken, an off duty officer is free to step in and protect the public. That’s what happened here and Dave sets a good example for everyone else.