CROWN POINT | It's been back to school for Lake County government employees this fall.
Thomas Dabertin, the county's human relations consultant, said 1,526 have received ethics training since classes began in October as part of the commitment to the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission by the Lake County Board of Commissioners and the Lake County Council.
County officials voted last spring to join the nonprofit Shared Ethics Commission's mission to encourage ethics in local government.
The nonprofit organization, formed a decade ago, also provides training for LaPorte and Porter counties, Chesterton, Hebron, Ogden Dunes, Crown Point, Dyer, East Chicago, Gary, Highland, Lowell, Munster, Schererville and Whiting.
"It is a positive development that citizens wanted for some time and its gone very well," Dabertin said. He said the county has conducted six one-hour training sessions that employees are required to attend.
He said future classes will be held for all new employees, current ones who missed the earlier classes and periodic refresher courses for all employees.
Calvin Bellamy, president of the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission, said county employees will be asked to join the thousands of others in county and municipal government taking a survey to rate the importance of their ethical training and the ethics of their own workplace.
"We did this in 2009 and 2012 and now we are doing it again to test the validity of our training. We want to know whether the employees value ethics training and ask them whether it has made a difference.
"We combine all the results and get a measure of the level of ethics among our public employees. That will be coming out in early 2016," he said.
The survey asks employees if they have or would report ethical misconduct at their workplace and whether they expect anyone in management would care to take action and whether that action would be fair and appropriate.
"We ask them what areas are they most concerned about," Bellamy said. "In the past, those areas are favoritism and misuse of pubic property."
He said the commission also will be asking candidates in the 2016 election to pledge, if elected, they will support ethics training for their staffs, approve an ethics policy and encourage whistleblower protection for employees who report ethics violations.