Lake County Council

Lake County Police Chief William Paterson, in uniform, speaks Thursday to the Lake County Council.

CROWN POINT — The Lake County Sheriff will name his new jail warden Tuesday, if the county makes the pay right.

Lake County Police Chief William Paterson appeared before a study session of the Lake County Council to ask council members to raise the next Lake County Jail administrator's salary from $88,942 to $110,000.

Paterson said Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. has selected a finalist for the job, but won't name or hire that person until the council votes at their regular meeting Tuesday to approve a new, higher salary.

Martinez has been on a nationwide search for a qualified professional corrections administrator since taking office last fall in the wake of former Sheriff John Buncich's bribery conviction.

Martinez terminated Buncich's former warden, Ed Davies, in October for failing to meet the U.S. Department of Justice's minimum requirements for jail administrators.

The sheriff said Davies’ status as warden had been one factor holding the jail back from compliance with an ongoing justice department probe and settlement agreement regarding past conditions at the jail.

The DOJ found the jail's medical department in 2009 and 2010 to have "systemic violations of inmate constitutional rights to medical care."

Since then, Jose Menchaca, the assistant jail warden, has been overseeing the lockup's operation.

Paterson said the sheriff brought in jail administrators from Arizona, Nevada, Illinois, Ohio and elsewhere in Indiana to interview.

Paterson said he, the sheriff and John Gruszka, commander of the staff services division, chose a finalist who exceeds the qualifications set by the U.S. Department of Justice.

That includes a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or other closely related field, five years experience in supervising a large correctional facility or an equivalent combination of education and experience and knowledge of and experience in applying modern correctional standards.

Paterson said the sheriff also conducted a national survey of jail administrator salaries for a facility similar to the county jail's size and complexity of inmate care issues. It indicates the pay here should be between $100,000 and $125,000.

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Lake County reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.