LAKE COUNTY — On Friday, Sheriff Rich Martin confirmed the termination of a Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy, Det. Sgt. John Bennett, stemming from two off-duty incidents which took place about a year ago.

The first altercation occurred the night of Dec. 16, 2017, at the Na-Tah-Ka South Restaurant, and the second altercation took place at Debbie’s Sportsman’s Bar the night of Jan. 7, 2018, according to Martin.

To be impartial, Martin requested the assistance of the Michigan State Police to conduct the investigation, in part, which utilized investigators from the Hart Post and Mount Pleasant Post. There were no criminal charges filed against Bennett.

On March 29, Bennett was terminated from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office after 18 years of service.

The termination was grieved by Bennett through his union COAM (Command Officers Association of Michigan). This resulted in a hearing on Aug.14 in front of an arbitrator, who rendered a decision denying the grievance. The matter now is closed and Martin’s decision to terminate Bennett has been affirmed.

“We as law enforcement should always be setting the example, on or off duty. The mission statement I adopted when I took office is serving our community with honor, integrity and dedication. This is how we are going function. I require this of each and every member of the department, and especially myself,” Martin said.

Bennett’s position hasn’t been replaced. Instead, because there were two deputy sergeant positions on the department, Martin elected to defund the position and activate a chief deputy position for road patrol. Lake County Commissioners approved these changes at their meeting last Wednesday.