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Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr.

Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr.

CROWN POINT — Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. and the Lake County Council said they are reforming county police training to reduce overtime costs.

The council voted 7-0 Tuesday to amend a collective bargaining agreement between the county and about 154 county police officers to change how officers are compensated for training new recruits.

Police Chief William Paterson, who is second-in-command at the Sheriff's Department, said field training officers will be paid $50 per shift and their field training manager will be paid between $50 and $100 per week.

Paterson said training officers previously received two hours compensatory time per shift.

"It's not proper. It wasn't part of the contract, and it wasn't part of the budget. You can't give someone more time than they actually work, and that was what he was doing," Paterson said of the plan created by former Sheriff John Buncich.

Paterson said, however, it also would be unfair to give training officers no additional money. "It is a lot of extra responsibility in situations that can be tough, so we are giving them a stipend, but only on a day when they are actually training"

He said it should result in a savings to taxpayers, although it is hard to estimate the amount since the old system was based on officers' salaries, which varied widely, depending on seniority.

Paterson said this change is part of an overall review of how to reduce unexpected budget overruns that were costing taxpayers between $1 million and $2 million a year under Buncich, who was removed from office last August after a federal jury convicted him of bribery and fraud and a Democratic party caucus chose Martinez to replace him.

Martinez told council members last November he was saving overtime money in the jail by ending an unauthorized system of benefits and compensation to favored department employees, primarily corrections officers in the jail, a Times investigation uncovered.

Paterson said the new reform has been ratified by the Lake County Fraternal Order of Police Chris Anton Lodge 125 and the Lake County Police Association Local 72, which represent county police.

Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail


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.