E-911 commission members look to amend ordinance to keep chairman
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent August 30, 2013 10:36PM
Updated: October 1, 2013 6:49AM
ST. JOHN — Lake County officials will have to amend the ordinance creating the E-911 Commission if they want East Chicago Emergency Management Director Herbert Cruz to continue serving as chair.
Members of the Lake County Public Safety Commission on Thursday learned Cruz could no longer legally continue as chair of the commission because emergency management officials can only be appointed to the commission as proxy members of the body, not full members.
“Technically, I am a proxy member. I couldn’t legally sit in as chairman,” Cruz said.
The way the ordinance establishing the commission is written only police and fire officials can be appointed as full members.
Roosevelt Allen Jr., D-Gary, the Lake County Commissioners representative on the E-911 commission, said when the ordinance was created there was not much consideration given to including emergency management agency directors, who also are an important part of the emergency response team.
“This is a brand new department. There are some unforeseen things we did not consider,” Allen said.
E-911 commission members are recommending the county council amend the ordinance at its Sept. 10 meeting so Cruz can continue in the position.
Cruz took over the chairman’s seat in June after the resignation of former Hobart Fire Chief Brian Taylor, who was tapped to serve as chair at the beginning of the year. Taylor left the city’s fire department to join the police force and resigned his seat on the E-911 commission.
Cruz has sat on the panel since its inception.
“It’s a tremendous undertaking. A lot of them don’t have the time. … He is willing to do it. He wants to do it. We will try and accommodate him if at all possible,” Allen said.
Vice chairman Steve Scheckel, the Munster Police Chief, will serve as interim chairman until commission members learn if the county council will amend the ordinance.