Vote Ear­nell Lu­cas for Mil­wau­kee Cty. sher­iff

Wisconsin Gazette - - Editorial -

Af­ter suf­fer­ing through 15 years of for­mer Mil­wau­kee County Sher­iff David Clarke’s bizarre an­tics and deadly in­com­pe­tence, res­i­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to turn the depart­ment into one they can be proud of by elect­ing Ear­nell Lu­cas.

Clarke re­signed last Septem­ber to take a po­si­tion with a pro-Trump su­per PAC. Since then Richard Sch­midt, who was Clarke’s sec­ond in com­mand, has been in­terim sher­iff.

Lu­cas, Sch­midt and Robert Ostrowski, a 16-year vet­eran of the MCSO, will square off in an Aug. 14 Demo­cratic pri­mary. With no Repub­li­can run­ning, the pri­mary win­ner likely will be the next sher­iff.

We be­lieve Sch­midt is com­pro­mised by his as­so­ci­a­tion with Clarke. Only an out­sider, one with a fresh per­spec­tive, can clean up the dys­func­tional, low-morale depart­ment that Clarke left be­hind.

Lu­cas is the can­di­date who can re­store or­der and in­tegrity to the of­fice. It’s rare to find a can­di­date with the breadth and depth of his ex­pe­ri­ence. Thought­ful, plain­spo­ken and lik­able, he also pos­sesses a dig­nity be­fit­ting the of­fice he seeks.

Lu­cas lived for a time in Mil­wau­kee’s Hill­side Ter­race pub­lic hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, but his mother moved him to the Haram­bee neigh­bor­hood fol­low­ing the 1967 ri­ots. She died when he was about 12, and his grand­mother moved from Alabama to raise him.

He wasn’t much older than 12 when a chance en­counter with a Mil­wau­kee pa­trol of­fi­cer, who stopped him on sus­pi­cion of steal­ing a woman’s purse, piqued his in­ter­est in a law-en­force­ment ca­reer.

His first day on the job, he ran into that same of­fi­cer.

“I walked up to him and in­tro­duced my­self and told him that he’d had a part in why I joined the po­lice depart­ment,” Lu­cas says. “He never rose above po­lice of­fi­cer, but he’s one of the most suc­cess­ful in my mind be­cause he did his job with in­tegrity and honor.”

The two have since be­come friends.

On New Year’s Day in 1982, Lu­cas was re­spond­ing to a do­mes­tic call when he was shot with a 12-gauge shot­gun in the face — he still has pel­lets in his or­bital bone.

But Lu­cas was un­de­terred. Af­ter six months of re­cu­per­a­tion, he felt the need “to get back out there.” At 23, he had big re­spon­si­bil­i­ties — a wife, a 2-year-old son and a 2-weekold daugh­ter.

He went on to rise to the po­si­tion of cap­tain with the Mil­wau­kee Po­lice Depart­ment. Lu­cas also grad­u­ated from the FBI Na­tional Academy and the North­west­ern Univer­sity Traf­fic In­sti­tute School of Po­lice Staff and Com­mand.

The worst scan­dal un­der Clarke’s watch was a se­ries of seven deaths at Mil­wau­kee County Jail due to neg­li­gence, some of it in­ten­tional. Re­form­ing the jail’s op­er­a­tions is one of Lu­cas’ top pri­or­i­ties.

“We’ve got to change the paradigm where there was no re­spect for the work­ers, and that re­sulted in the failed prac­tices that led to the deaths in the jail,” Lu­cas says.

“A num­ber of deputies were work­ing mul­ti­ple shifts (at the jail), and I know that is only go­ing to lead to stress and fa­tigue,” he added. “Deputies were not re­ceiv­ing ad­e­quate train­ing and re­sources. I’ll put in place poli­cies and pro­ce­dures that ad­e­quately (sup­port) work­ers and in­mates.”

Clarke saw the pe­nal sys­tem as strictly a tool for pun­ish­ment. Lu­cas be­lieves it should both pun­ish and re­ha­bil­i­tate.

“It is our hope and in­tent that Mil­wau­kee County Jail is a place where a per­son comes once and de­cides he or she doesn’t want to re­turn,” Lu­cas says. “We’re go­ing to have the goal of re­turn­ing the in­di­vid­ual as a pro­duc­tive mem­ber of so­ci­ety.”

His other pri­or­i­ties in­clude re­turn­ing more pa­trol cars to the free­ways and re­new­ing re­la­tion­ships with the county’s 19 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Clarke had stopped meet­ing with them.

Such re­la­tion­ships, Lu­cas says, are cen­tral to co­or­di­nat­ing ef­fec­tive re­sponses to emer­gen­cies. Main­tain­ing the re­la­tion­ships is a crit­i­cal part of the sher­iff’s job.

In­ter-agency com­mu­ni­ca­tion hap­pens to be one of Lu­cas’ spe­cial­ties. Af­ter 25 years on the MPD, he re­tired from the force in 2002 and went to work as a se­cu­rity su­per­vi­sor for Ma­jor League Base­ball Com­mis­sioner Bud Selig.

Within a few years, he was pro­moted to MLB’s chief li­ai­son for se­cu­rity and in­ves­ti­ga­tions. In that role, Lu­cas is re­spon­si­ble for co­or­di­nat­ing the se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions of 30

Read more about Ear­nell Lu­cas and con­nect with the cam­paign on­line at www. lu­cas­formke.com.

MLB teams and 256 Mi­nor League teams with a com­bined fan base of 235 mil­lion.

Lu­cas works with fed­eral, state and lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency and the U.S. Depart­ment of De­fense. Among his du­ties is pro­tect­ing base­ball from gam­bling and help­ing ar­range the use of sta­di­ums for shel­ters in emer­gen­cies, such as hur­ri­canes.

Hold­ing such a high-pro­file po­si­tion for so many years has pre­pared Lu­cas for the very pub­lic role of sher­iff.

When he an­nounced his can­di­dacy last year, he was plan­ning to take on Clarke at the polls. The me­dia ac­knowl­edged Lu­cas as Clarke’s first se­ri­ous chal­lenger.

He en­tered first, and now it’s in Mil­wau­kee County’s best in­ter­est that he fin­ishes first Aug. 14.

Only you can make that hap­pen. Wis­con­sin Gazette en­dorses Ear­nell Lu­cas for sher­iff.

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