CROWN POINT | The Lake County sheriff has reassigned one the county's best known drug cops to keep the peace at Lake Ridge Community Schools.
Sheriff's Department Deputy Cmdr. Oscar Martinez took up his new office at Calumet High this week as the school resource officer with mixed emotions.
"The sheriff has the power to transfer officers," Martinez said. "I do respect that, but if I had a choice, I would prefer to be back on the highway, doing what I do best — interdicting drugs coming in to our community.
"I don't have that option and I want to make it clear, whatever assignment he gives me, I will give it 110 percent for the kids, for the teachers and for the community," Martinez said.
Martinez helped start the department's first drug interdiction program. He and other officers in the program have seized millions of dollars worth of illicit drugs and drug profits found hidden in cars traveling through Lake County over the past 17 years.
"The drug interdiction program is up and running," Sheriff John Buncich said. "We have three officers assigned to that."
Buncich said he wants Martinez to deal with a problems at Lake Ridge.
"What really brought my focus on it was that at the start of the school year a lot of violence was occurring in and around the campus, especially the high school and middle school," Buncich said. "He is a perfect fit for that and his salary is completely paid by a school system grant so this is not costing the county a dime. Its a win-win situation for us and the school."
"I'm here to provide a safe environment for the student and stop fights or any harassment. There is some gang activity," Martinez said.
"I will also look into any criminal activity. We just had a little 5-year-old girl who didn't show up for school so I went to investigate and found she had been left home alone."
Buncich said Martinez also will meet with other school resource officers around the county to help put together police response plans in case of an emergency in any school.