CROWN POINT — Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. has hired an East Chicago city councilman as public relations head for the department.
Emiliano Perez Jr. takes over as director of public relations and a health care administrator for the county jail.
Perez said that in addition to being the sheriff's spokesman, he will oversee a program to sign up long-term county jail inmates for Medicaid services.
The Lake County Council voted this week to give the sheriff permission to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Mark Back, the sheriff's spokesman under former Sheriff John Buncich and briefly for Martinez, who took office Sept. 16.
The position's salary is listed at $63,636 in the 2018 county government budget.
Perez has been an at-large East Chicago city councilman since July when a caucus of Democratic precinct committee members named him to the job, following the death of former Councilman Ronald London the previous month.
Perez had 23 years of service with the East Chicago's Fire Department. East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland named Perez the city's fire chief in 2012 and chief of staff for the mayor in 2015.
The Sheriff’s Department has been enrolling county jail inmates in Medicaid since last year under a state law will assist local government in paying for jail-associated medical service.
The jail receives more than 11,000 men and women annually and many of them require chronic care for infectious diseases and treatment for heroin, opiates, alcohol and other substance abuse addictions, according to authorities.
The health care administrator would oversee registering inmates who have been in jail custody at least 30 days to qualify for federal assistance in and out of jail.