An Indictment Hangs Over the Race for Lake County Sheriff

Tuesday’s election in Lake County will pit a Democratic candidate who claims to have committed his life to public safety against a former Republican deputy who claims the current sheriff’s criminal conviction is a stain on the agency. As for why he is seeking reelection, Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. stated that he is “truly committed to making all of Lake County a safer location for everyone.”

If elected again, Martinez vowed to “continue the momentum I have been building in public safety, address the needs of families and individuals dealing with addiction and mental health issues, and ensure the Lake County Sheriff’s Department is outfitted with the best technology and training available, so we can respond to large-scale emergencies and disasters quickly, safely, and effectively.”

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“I would continue to invest time and resources in comprehensive, cutting-edge public safety methods.” Dave Crane claimed that Lake County citizens deserve a sheriff who will protect them when he entered the contest in June after no other Republicans sought the party’s candidacy on May 3. Crane claimed that Martinez is the most recent sheriff and other high-ranking officials to be charged with a crime and that the Lake County Sheriff’s Department has a history of corruption.

Martinez was charged with felony law enforcement resistance and misdemeanor careless driving in January by a Lake Criminal Court grand jury. He has entered a not-guilty plea in relation to claims that on September 18, 2021, after drinking at Crown Point’s Buddy & Pal’s bar, he was traveling 96 mph in a 45 mph zone in an unregistered Jeep TrackHawk.

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Two Crown Point police officers are accused of being led on a chase by the sheriff into Merrillville while their lights and sirens were on. When the driver they were pursuing activated the TrackHawk’s police emergency lights, the cops ended their pursuit. The case was then forwarded to the Indiana State Police post in Fort Wayne for additional investigation.

After serving as a sheriff’s deputy for 17 years, Crane previously told The Times that he was forced to leave in 2015. He has since stated that he wants to rebuild the department’s reputation. According to Crane, “I know that our folks are sick and weary of police officers who think they are above the law.”

“I know that the good, dedicated police officers are tired of seeing law enforcement dragged through the dirt every time a bad officer’s acts make the front page of the paper,” the speaker said. Martinez claimed to be the only candidate with a resume of ideas and successes and to have 30 years of law enforcement expertise.

He claimed, “Unlike my opponent, I have a proven record of upholding the greatest degree of fiscal prudence and efficient daily operations, all while actually hitting the streets myself to respond to emergencies and assist in the investigation of crimes. “Being sheriff is not just my job; it is my life,” the speaker said. Martinez was “a highly-decorated cop known for helping to take millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs off the street” before he was elected sheriff, he claimed.

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This experience has given me a special perspective on how to gather resources and put them in the best possible positions, he claimed. The understanding of the most effective uses of our resources—talent and equipment—allows me to better serve Lake County’s inhabitants. If chosen, Crane promised to try to make sure every school is secure, enhance collaboration with other organizations, and establish a civilian oversight board for the department.

Assuring the safety of our children is my first responsibility, he declared. “Too many of our children are passing away from drug overdoses, and we have all witnessed far too many school shootings. To make sure that every school is secure, I will collaborate with school administrations, teachers’ unions, PTAs, PTOs, and security professionals.”

With other law enforcement agencies, “I think we can create a better working relationship,” he added. We are all harmed by federal law enforcement authorities lack of collaboration. He claimed to have discussed the necessity for a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area “fusion center” to better coordinate data from the initiative’s three units in Northwest Indiana with Republican candidates for sheriff in Porter and LaPorte counties.

Crane stated that all complaints made against sheriff’s officers would be investigated by his suggested civilian oversight review body. The Lake County Sheriff’s Merit Board, which, by Indiana law, is the final authority on discharging law enforcement officers, would receive all information following a review by this board, he added. Martinez enumerated a number of achievements from his first four years in office.

He claimed to have founded and expanded the Police Assisted Rehabilitation Initiative, which employs two full-time mental health specialists to assist people in finding non-arrestable routes to treatment and recovery. Officers participating in the program are trained on how to handle circumstances in which mental health issues, including addiction, may be present.

“Our county policing approach encourages compassion and empathy,” he said. According to Martinez, he has overseen a number of special enforcement support programs and operations, including monthly multi-agency operations that target violent crimes, drug trafficking, carjackings, and other traffic infractions. The Lake County School Safety Emergency Contact Network, according to the sheriff, was created this year.

In response to situations in huge buildings, he added, “We continue to work on establishing communications alternatives for police and public safety services.” A public safety intelligence center will be established at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department in 2023, according to the plan. Martinez added that he oversaw a group that successfully applied for a Project Safe Neighborhoods grant, which was used to buy the cloud-based emergency planning application StrataSite.

Every public, parochial, private, and charter school in Lake County have access to it, in addition to college campuses, he said. They will be able to work together with their local police and fire agencies to develop and update emergency action plans thanks to it. The voters should be aware that Crane would never take them for granted, he said.

I’ve visited every union hall in Northwest Indiana for this reason, he stated. To spread my message, I have visited numerous businesses and gone through a variety of areas throughout Lake County.

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