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Lake County Sheriff Daniel Dunlap Retires

After 46 years in law enforcement, 27 of them as Lake County Sheriff, Dan Dunlap announced his retirement Tuesday to county commissioners.

In a resignation letter, Dunlap said his last day in service will be Aug. 31.

"We have a very young, energetic leadership team here who are ready in corrections, dispatch and road patrol to grow and assume more responsibility," Dunlap said. "I've enjoyed it, it's not easy leaving, but you just come to a realization that it's time to move on."

His staff is now better equipped to handle growing challenges in law enforcement, such as internet crime, the dark web and hacks or ransom involving cryptocurrency, he said.  And the challenge of handling those with mental health issues will continue to expand, Dunlap says, because the governing system has failed that population.

"They were going to mainstream people, close all the mental health institutions and then they were going take care of them when they came back to their communities," Dunlap said. "They did number one pretty well, but a lot of the responsibility for the mentally ill and the homeless and everything else going on, has fallen on the shoulders of law enforcement and jails, corrections."

In 1990, Dunlap, then a lieutenant with the Lake County sheriff' office, was on patrol when he was asked to help process the scene of the Kirtland cult killings, the largest mass murder in Lake County history. Five members of the Avery family were killed and leader Jeff Lundgren was evnetually convicted of their murders. He was executed by the state in 2006.

"It was emotional, there was a loss of a family," Dunlap said. "And again, at that point I'm a lieutenant, it's rewarding when you testify and do well at murder trials. That's part of the job."

It's difficult to encapsulate his feelings about retirement and to reflect on the job he did in a sound bite or short conversation, Dunlap told ideastream Wednesday, but he takes a lot of pride in what he was able to accomplish and the reputation that his agency has in Lake County. Early in his career, he says "catching the bad guys" was a thrill, but the job and his view of it evolved.

"Part of it is setting up a dispatch center and meeting new things and growing and setting up one of the first [computerized] dispatch and 911 centers in Northeast Ohio and the state," Dunlap said.

In terms of what he'll miss, Dunlap says the power, which he added is not a bad thing.

"Power to make change when necessary," Dunlap said."Power to move things forward. Power to hire people and give them a profession they can enjoy and be proud of and have an agency that they can be proud of."

Dunlap said he strongly endorses Deputy Chief Frank Leonbruno to take over on an interim basis. The Lake County Commissioners will make a temporary appointment, and later the Republican central committee will nominate a candidate for sheriff to run in the 2020 primary and general elections.

"I shall remain forever grateful to the public for entrusting me with this job," Dunlap said. "It has been my extreme pleasure to be their sheriff."

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