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Denita Ball will be first woman to lead Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office

While Denita Ball explained that she is humble and not seeking the limelight for herself, she feels the magnitude of this moment.
Denita Ball
Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 18:20:15-04

MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. — The cheers and applause roared at Sam's Place Jazz Cafe after Denita Ball won Tuesday's primary, putting her on the path to becoming the first woman to lead the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin's first Black female sheriff.

"It's starting to sink in. I am processing it all but yesterday was so surreal," Ball said on Wednesday.

While Ball explained that she is humble and not seeking the limelight for herself, she feels the magnitude of this moment. She wants to do her job well.

"I didn't get here by myself. There were people who paved the way who made it easier for a woman to be in a male-dominated field so I'm just proud of that. Yes I'm the first but I have to make sure that I'm not the last," Ball said.

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 her 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.

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.

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

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