EAST CHICAGO | The man who has directed East Chicago's emergency management agency and Lake County's board of E-911 consolidation advisers is stepping down.
Herbert Cruz said Monday he is retiring from the East Chicago Fire Department, where he has served for 28 years, and as the city's emergency management director after more than five years.
Cruz also will step down as chairman of the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission, a group of police and fire officials who are advising county officials on how to meld 17 community-based police and fire department dispatch centers into a single countywide network.
"I'm going to retire immediately. It's something I've had in the works for a while," Cruz said. "I'm pursuing other professional opportunities. I'm currently consulting for several companies in Northwest Indiana and recently negotiated a lease to open a safety training center in Schererville.
"I'm really proud of the career I've had. I've been running the (East Chicago) 911 center for the last seven years. I've been a medic for 27 years. I'm a first aid and CPR and hazmat instructor. I want to thank Mayor (Anthony) Copeland for letting me serve as EM director and as chairman of the county commission."
Cruz took over as chairman of the E-911 effort last summer as county officials put together a compromise agreement. The deal was intended to entice reluctant cities and towns to join the network by giving them more flexibility in spending the county's new income tax revenues on public safety personnel and equipment.
Cedar Lake, Highland, St. John and Schererville remain the only communities that have yet to sign the E-911 interlocal agreement.
Cruz said, "I'm really proud of we've done as a public safety communications commission. I think we are on the verge of pulling this all together. I'm sad I cannot see it through to the end, but I know it's going to be a success."