Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Sheriff Lucas Leaving for Job With Fiserv

Will become Vice President of Security for Wisconsin for company headquartered in Brookfield.

By - Oct 21st, 2022 03:39 pm
Earnell Lucas. Photo from the Sheriff Earnell Lucas Facebook page.

Earnell Lucas. Photo from the Sheriff Earnell Lucas Facebook page.

Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas will not be in the job much longer, and not just because he isn’t running for re-election.

The sheriff announced Friday that he will be starting a new job Monday as the Vice President of Security for Wisconsin with Fiserv, a financial technology company headquartered in Brookfield.

“I look forward to the next chapter in a long career of service and adding value to the Milwaukee community,” Lucas said in a statement. “I am excited to be joining a team of security professionals in the Global Security and Investigations Unit with a FORTUNE™ 500 company and one of FORTUNE Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies.”

The second-in-command at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Deputy Denita Ballwill temporarily replace Lucas and is also running unopposed to win a full term as the next sheriff in the November election. She will become Acting Sheriff at midnight on Oct. 23, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said. Then a little over two weeks later she will officially become sheriff.

Lucas served one term as sheriff, having run for election in 2018 against then acting-Sheriff Richard Schmidt following the resignation of David Clarke. Lucas was only the second elected sheriff to serve during the past two decades as Clarke was first elected in 2002 and held office until 2017.

“It has been the high honor of my professional career to serve as Milwaukee County Sheriff,” Lucas said. “I thank the many friends and supporters of the Sheriff’s Office who placed their confidence and trust in me to deliver a high level of service to the people of Milwaukee County. I also thank the men and women of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office who worked daily to restore honor, integrity, and trust to the agency. Together, we helped make Milwaukee County strong and safe.”

Lucas ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2022, following the resignation of former Mayor Tom Barrett in the fall of 2021 to become the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. He took fifth in the non-partisan primary.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Lucas is a graduate of Rufus King High School and has a bachelors in criminology and law study from Marquette University.

He began his law enforcement career with the Milwaukee Police Department; serving for 25 years, surviving a gunshot wound and retiring as a captain. In 2002, he went to work in the private sector as supervisor of security for Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Bud Selig, eventually becoming MLB vice president of security and facility management and later the chief liaison of security and investigations.

Lucas inherited a department that was shaped by 15 years under the command of Clarke, a divisive right-wing politician who was often at odds with other county officials. Leading up to the Democratic primary for sheriff in August, every candidate who spoke with Urban Milwaukee was a member of the sheriff’s department, and all said the agency culture built by Clarke is an issue that lingers to this day.

In the statement announcing his new job, Lucas’ listed accomplishments included appointing the first chief legal and compliance officer in MCSO history, “who was charged with ensuring that MCSO adheres to the highest ethical and moral standards of its profession, employs industry best practices, and holds itself accountable.”

Lucas leaves behind a sheriff’s office beset by several challenges. Chief among them are the conditions at the Milwaukee County Jail, which has struggled with overcrowding and severe understaffing, as well as several in-custody deaths in recent years.

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