Graham Kilmer

Sheriff Lucas Won’t Run for Reelection

His Chief Deputy Denita Ball announces run for sheriff since Lucas is running for mayor.

By - Nov 10th, 2021 02:32 pm
Denita Ball. Photo courtesy of Denita Ball for Sheriff.

Denita Ball. Photo courtesy of Denita Ball for Sheriff.

The fall election just got more interesting.

The top deputy in the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office announced her candidacy Tuesday for Milwaukee County Sheriff.

Chief Deputy Denita Ball said in a press release that she is running for the office as a Democrat. 

Her boss, Sheriff Earnell Lucas is not planning to seek re-election, and has not filed to run. He has announced that he will run for Mayor of the City of Milwaukee in the special election to replace Mayor Tom Barrett, who was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. Legally, Lucas could have run for both sheriff and mayor and then stepped down from his current job if he won the race for mayor. But he decided against this. 

Ball has more than 35 years experience in law enforcement, having joined the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) in 1985. She was with MPD for more than 25 years, and ascended to the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain and deputy inspector.

Ball left MPD and earned a Ph.D. from Cardinal Stritch University in Educational Leadership. She did her dissertation on the use of deadly force by police. Specifically, Ball studied the phenomena through a sociological framework, using the personal experiences of officers that used lethal force in an attempt to understand how human factors influence decision making in these situations, as well as the role training plays both before and after the use of lethal force.

Ball went on to oversee the criminal justice program for Bryant and Stratton College in the Milwaukee area. When Lucas was elected in 2018, he asked Ball to join his executive staff at the sheriff’s office. Lucas said at the time, “When Dr. Ball takes office, she will make history as the highest-ranking woman to serve in the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.”

She would make even more history if she wins the race for sheriff. In a statement announcing her candidacy, Ball said, “Milwaukee County is at a crossroads right now. Crime, especially violent crime, is increasing at alarming rates. I’m running for Sheriff because we have to reverse this trend. We need our streets to be safe and we must do more to apprehend criminals in addition to putting in place the programs, services, and community level supports that prevent would-be-criminals from committing crimes in the first place.”

Ball said she is “incredibly proud” of the work done in the sheriff’s office under Lucas. “That’s why I’m running for Sheriff, to build on the progress that’s been made and to continue improving how our deputies, officers and other staff members work and interact with residents and help to make a positive difference in the community.”

Brian Barkow, commander of the MCSO’s Law Enforcement Analytics Division, has also filed to run for sheriff as a Democrat.

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