Sheriff's proposal to send deputy to academy shot down

BALDWIN — During a Lake County Board of Commissioners personnel meeting on Wednesday, board members discussed whether to pay for corrections officer Rishawn Easley to attend the police academy. This would allow him to become a certified road patrol officer.

About two-dozen local residents gathered in support of Easley. Following discussions between the board and Lake County Sheriff Rich Martin, who asked the commissioners to send Easley to academy, the board nevertheless decided not to move forward with the sheriff's proposal.

"The board didn't take action on the sheriff's proposal as written," said Lake County Administrator Tobi Lake. "The underlying theme I got was it wasn't a monetary issue, but that the ends didn't justify the means. The board would like to see an African-American or female on the road patrol, but they want it to be fair and accessible for all employees — not hand picked.

"In addition, if the proposal were to go through, we might be fighting grievances from our unions, who expressed concerns about it not being fair to everyone. There also were a litany of issues about using road patrol dollars to fund academy. We need to find out how to go about it fairly and to give everyone an opportunity. The commissioners and the sheriff all agree on diversifying the department, but they disagree on how to get from A to B."

Following the meeting, Martin said the commissioners should have reacted more to the community support for Easley.

"There was strong community support for sending Rishawn Easley to academy, but some of the commissioners didn't feel this proposal was worth entertaining," Martin said. "They don't feel the need to spend road patrol dollars, but we have the money and a way to make it happen — to send Rishawn to academy. The board wants to look for different ways to approach this, but while it is being held off, they are forgetting about the people who live in the community."