(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Sheriff’s Department is almost fully staffed. Three of the most recent hires come from diverse backgrounds.
Deputy Joseph Walker hails from Crawfordsville, Indiana. The other two were born in foreign countries. Deputy Pablo Pesa was born in Argentina and grew up outside Chicago. He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Government and Counter Terrorism in Irsael. And Deputy Jet Balenia grew up in the Philippines.
County Sheriff Ron Heeg says he’s always happy to welcome new officers, no matter where they’re from. “They obviously have a diverse background, coming from out of the country,” he said of Pesa and Balenia. “Both of them have come to the United States and have made productive citizens out of themselves. We’re very fortunate and very happy to have them on board here at the Sheriff’s Office.”
Heeg says family connections brought these officers to the area, but the recently raised police salaries didn’t hurt. Balenia worked for the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office previously, before transferring to another county. Heeg said Balenia found “the grass wasn’t greener on the other side” and once salaries increased decided to come back.
Heeg said the effects of raising the local income tax for public safety have been quick and positive. “The raise was a two-fold event,” said Heeg. “One was to stop the bleeding, so to speak, to get the guys to quit leaving. Two was to seek and recruit the quality of personnel to get our staff up to full strength.”
According to Heeg, the Sheriff’s Office is now just one officer shy of a full department.