Denita Ball becomes Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff: ‘I am honored’

October 27, 2022

Denita Ball will be the first female and fourth African American sheriff of Milwaukee County

Denita R. Ball officially assumed the role of acting Milwaukee County Sheriff on Monday, October 24, 2022, after Earnell R. Lucas resigned from the position.

Ball won about 56 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, beating candidates Captain Thomas Beal and Inspector Brian Barkow. Ball will be by herself on the Nov. 8 ballot, meaning she will transition from an acting to permanent role following the election.

On Friday, October 21, 2022, Earnell Lucas announced he would retire as sheriff on Sunday, Oct. 23. He said in a statement he has taken a job as Fiserv’s Vice President of Security for Wisconsin. Lucas worked in law enforcement for 46 years and served as the Milwaukee County Sheriff for the last four years.

Ball will be the first female and fourth African American sheriff of Milwaukee County.

“We have all heard the adage that with great power comes great responsibility, and it is my responsibility and my promise to work with the men and women of this great agency to promote best practices, bolster their ranks, and improve working conditions,” Ball said in a statement.

Ball grew up in a small town in Arkansas before making her way to Milwaukee and joining the police department, where she spent more than 25 years working her way up the ranks.

She then pursued a career in higher education and earned a Ph.D., at Cardinal Stritch University.

In 2018, Ball became the highest-ranking woman in the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Earnell Lucas.

“I didn’t have the best background, the best upbringing. I had some challenges that I overcame and so as long as people see that and know that I was able to do that and then it may give them some hope,” Ball said in an interview with TMJ4 News last August.

Ball’s priority as sheriff is making sure the jail is properly staffed.

“I think that our critical staffing level there is the cause of a lot of other issues that we’re having,” said Ball.

As she gets to work Ball had this advice for people on their journey.

“You can be whatever you want to be. Know what your passion is. Be prepared. You may never get that opportunity but prepare yourself in case you do. Whatever you decide to do be the best that you can be,” Ball said in the TMJ4 interview.

Ball described her management style as hands-on and collaborative. She will be sworn into office in January.