Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Evers Appoints Denita Ball Milwaukee County Sheriff

Ball makes history ahead of schedule as first female Milwaukee County Sheriff.

By - Oct 27th, 2022 07:21 pm
Denita Ball. Photo courtesy of Denita Ball for Sheriff.

Denita Ball. Photo courtesy of Denita Ball for Sheriff.

Governor Tony Evers officially appointed acting-Sheriff Denita Ball to the job Thursday.

Ball stepped into the role Monday following Sheriff Earnell Lucasresignation to take a position with Fiserv, a financial technology company headquartered in Brookfield.

The new sheriff will finish Lucas’ term, after which she will remain in the position as the newly-elected sheriff. Ball is running unopposed for sheriff in the November election after winning the Democratic primary in August. Lucas unsuccessfully ran for mayor earlier in the year and did not seek re-election as sheriff.

“With over 35 years of service in law enforcement and criminal justice education, Dr. Denita Ball is a dedicated public servant who is committed to ensuring the safety of her community,” Evers said in a statement.

Ball joined the Milwaukee Police Department in 1985 and served for 25 years, rising to the ranks of captain and deputy inspector. In 2010, she left MPD and earned a Ph.D. from Cardinal Stritch University. Her dissertation was on the use of deadly force by police. She served as head of the criminal justice program at Bryant and Stratton College

After his 2018 election, Lucas asked her to join his executive staff. With her new appointment as sheriff, this is the second time Ball has made history as the highest-ranking woman to serve in the MCSO. Prior to her appointment, she was the first woman to serve as chief deputy.

“I offer my deep appreciation to the governor and Sheriff Lucas for being tremendous partners and trusting me to lead,” Ball said in a statement. “I promise the people of Milwaukee County we will make it safer. Additionally, my promise to everyone in the Sheriff’s Office is we will continue to make our agency a better place to work. I am only here due to the grace of God and the hard work of those who came before me. Together we will make Milwaukee County safer and stronger.”

As the new sheriff, Ball inherits a department with many challenges. The most pressing being are the conditions at the jail, which has seen several in-custody deaths in recent years while struggling with overcrowding and understaffing. After winning the partisan primary, Ball said her first priority was fixing the staffing problem at the jail.

In a statement, County Executive David Crowley congratulated Ball. “There is no one more prepared to lead in these difficult times. We will continue our strong partnership with the Sheriff’s Office to improve our quality of life and ensure our streets are safe for all,” said Crowley.

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