By Earnell Lucas
Our community faces a stark choice in the Democratic Primary election for Milwaukee County Sheriff. We can settle for the status quo in the Sheriff’s Office, or we can move beyond the failures of past and current leaders and embrace a bold, new vision for a strong and safe community.
I am the only candidate for Sheriff with that vision. As your next Sheriff, I will lead a Sheriff’s Office that affirms the human rights and dignity of everyone living in Milwaukee County. I will lead a Sheriff’s Office that protects immigrant rights. To cite the great poet Langston Hughes, “the immigrant, clutching the hope” they seek for a brighter future in this country, as a valuable member of our community. And I will lead a Sheriff’s Office that keeps our neighborhoods, parks and highways safe, for our children, for our families and for our elders.
Our community cannot afford the continued mismanagement of the Sheriff’s Office. Between 2016 and 2018, seven people died in the Milwaukee County Jail, which the Sheriff’s Office operates. A private company that runs the jail’s healthcare program is facing criminal charges for neglecting an inmate. We have witnessed a rash of violent assaults in our county parks; meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office unit assigned to patrol over 150 parks is inadequately staffed. Only a handful of Sheriff’s deputies patrol our interstate highways, which are plagued by reckless, drunk and wrong-way drivers.
As your next Sheriff, I will end the inhumane treatment of people detained in the jail. I will ensure that inmates receive quality healthcare, and under my leadership, the Sheriff’s Office will promptly distribute any medications that their well-being requires. Instead of operating a facility focused simply on punishment, I will provide inmates with educational programming and, when needed, treatment opportunities. Our community deserves a Sheriff who will protect the human rights of everyone in Milwaukee County, including persons facing criminal charges while detained.
I will end the public safety crisis in our parks. By reallocating funding to the Sheriff’s Office parks patrol, I will restore a trusted Sheriff’s Office presence to neighborhood parks throughout the county, not just along the lakefront. I will train Sheriff’s Office personnel to work alongside neighborhood and youth groups to increase safety in our parks. I will establish a Citizen Park Watch program that unites groups of neighbors near our county parks, to keep a watchful eye on illegal activity.
Currently, our highways lack a visible Sheriff’s Office presence, except during occasional “saturation” initiatives. While these initiatives generate publicity for political leaders, they do little to protect the driving public. Under my leadership, the Sheriff’s Office will restore full funding to the Traffic Enforcement Unit. We will explore creative strategies, like electronic warning systems currently used in Arizona, to deter reckless and wrong-way drivers. At the same time, we will target intoxicated driving and support tougher laws that keep repeat offenders off our roads.
My experience leading public safety efforts in Milwaukee, across our country, and around the globe prepares me for the hard work of restoring integrity and trust to the Sheriff’s Office. As a Milwaukee police captain commanding the Third District, I brought residents, nonprofit organizations and businesses together to build safer neighborhoods on the Near West Side. As a security executive for Major League Baseball, I led public safety efforts that returned Minor League Baseball to El Paso, Texas. As the Public Information Officer for the Milwaukee Police Department, I advised two chiefs of police and communicated openly and honestly with residents and local, national and international media.
The next Milwaukee County Sheriff faces an obligation to restore trust to an office sworn to protect and serve everyone in our county. Under my leadership, the Sheriff’s Office will once again meet its basic obligations: to keep everyone safe in our parks and on our highways, to protect facilities like the courthouse and airport, and to operate a secure and humane jail. I can also promise that as your next Sheriff, I will continue traveling across our county to learn from you. I will connect with constituents individually and in group settings, working with activists and advocacy groups and building relationships of trust. Together, we will work toward building the strong and safe community that we all deserve.