Endorsement: Return Curran as Lake County sheriff
The race for Lake County sheriff has been spirited and contentious. Republican Mark Curran, 51, the two-term incumbent from Libertyville, faces Democrat Jason Patt, 36 of Zion, who has run an aggressive campaign.
Patt, an investigator with the Lake County Coroner's Office, has touted his 18 years of law enforcement experience and training, including having served in the U.S. Navy and rising to the rank of petty officer. He has pulled no punches in criticizing Curran's administration. Much of Patt's focus is on office morale, which he says is at an "all-time low." He has been critical of two wrongful death lawsuits involving Lake County jail prisoners and one discrimination lawsuit involving a female deputy. They have resulted in two financial settlements. Patt wants to cut two high-ranking jobs and reallocate funds to hire more deputies.
Curran has defended his record, especially including morale issues, which he says are limited to some disgruntled employees. He has stressed Patt lacks the leadership experience needed to make tough decisions and run the office effectively.
While his eight years in office have not always been smooth, the complete picture of Curran's tenure must consider his successes.
He has operated the department below budget all eight years, and the county's crime rate is down. Lake County leads the state in DUI arrests this year. Curran also has been lauded for religious and other programs he implemented to provide moral rehabilitation for criminals and reduce recidivism.
He has demonstrated he is not afraid to make tough decisions to fix problems to do what's best to protect county residents.
He put more cops on the street by pulling Grade 1 deputies from court security and reassigning them to highway patrol and specialty units. He replaced them with primarily retired officers at less cost.
In response to the death of a jail prisoner, Curran launched internal and independent investigations. They revealed mismanagement in the jail, falsified logbooks, poor supervision and other problems. The findings led to the 2014 firing of three jail officers and other disciplinary action. Procedural and equipment changes also were put in place.
Moving forward, Curran must reexamine his staff relationship to see if there's a morale problem more pervasive than a few complainers. Vigilance is needed to prohibit discrimination among employees and others, and to guarantee the safety of prisoners.
Still, Curran's successes outweigh the problems. We recommend him for another term.