- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) - The Lake County sheriff is asking the county’s 12 state lawmakers to amend a state law to temporarily replace or remove East Chicago Councilman Robert Battle from office.

Battle is being held without bond in the Porter County Jail on federal murder and drug charges. The (Munster) Times (https://bit.ly/1QEYXiC ) reports that the 42-year-old is accused of fatally shooting alleged Two Six gang member Reimundo Camarillo Jr. on Oct. 12 after Camarillo confronted Battle about cooperating with a drug investigation.

Voters re-elected Battle in November and he was recently sworn in while behind bars.

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said in a letter to lawmakers that Battle shouldn’t be allowed to remain in his position with full pay while he’s incarcerated.

East Chicago City Council members made $42,356 annually in 2014, more than five times the average salary of council members in 75 community governments, according to the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.

“I fully understand our system of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’” Buncich wrote in his letter. “However, some form of action either permanent or temporary should be taken immediately.”

Buncich believes there’s a way to provide voters in Battle’s district with effective representation. Legislation could at least provide some sort of temporary replacement, he said, or perhaps prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.

“You’ve got an individual that’s being paid and not there. An empty seat,” Buncich said. “Now, where do the residents of East Chicago go?”

The city’s taxpaying residents deserve better, he said.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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