Dane Co. sheriff hopeful: Barrett ‘puts political theater and politics in front of policing’

MADISON, Wis. — A detective hoping to replace Kalvin Barrett as Dane County’s sheriff blasted Barrett Wednesday, saying the current sheriff “puts political theater and politics in front of policing that could put human lives at risk.”

During a news conference at Olin-Turville Park Wednesday morning, Detective Anthony Hamilton took aim at a number of Barrett’s initiatives since taking over the sheriff’s office, including a gun buyback event held over the weekend and the decision to refer to those behind bars in the county’s jail as residents rather than inmates.

While Barrett touted the buyback event — which saw law enforcement officials collect 577 weapons in exchange for gift cards — as a success, Hamilton said the more than $43,000 spent on the buyback could have been better used and that buybacks themselves don’t reduce gun violence as proponents argue.

RELATED: Hundreds of guns collected at Dane County gun buyback event

“Nearly all of these guns were handed over by older, white women, not the demographic that the sheriff said he was after,” Hamilton said. “Just as I suspected, not one single violent offender turned in a gun. Not one single stolen gun was recovered.”

Instead, Hamilton said he would have used the money to do a stolen vehicle roundup as the number of vehicles taken — especially Hyundai and Kia models — rises.

RELATED: Madison officials say violent crime below three-year averages, still work to do

“With $50,000, instead of political theater, I could pay a dozen deputies overtime for eight straight hours, seven days in a row and make a real change in violent crime in this county.”

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Barrett said he was “very pleased” with the results of the event.

“It’s important to remember that we will never know if we have prevented an injury or death. We can’t measure something that did not happen, but by providing this opportunity for people to safely dispose of their unwanted firearms, we can undoubtedly say that these guns will never be used in a crime, a suicide, a domestic violence incident or an accident,” he said.

Hamilton also decried a move by Barrett last August to call those behind bars in the jail residents instead of inmates. At the time, Barrett said the move was an effort to “humanize those who are within our care.”

“He made this coddling change after some misguided idea that the inmates’ feelings need protection after they commit violent criminal acts. The inmates don’t even like this name,” Hamilton said, pledging he would revert to the term inmate if elected.

News 3 Now has reached out to Barrett’s campaign for a response; this story will be updated if he responds.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story used the incorrect first name for Detective Hamilton. It is Anthony, not Andrew. News 3 Now regrets the error.