State police respond to emergencies, but Winfield still lacks police patrols

2010-10-06T17:30:00Z 2010-10-08T00:16:45Z State police respond to emergencies, but Winfield still lacks police patrolsBy Chas Reilly, (219) 662-5324

WINFIELD | Indiana State Police will respond to emergency calls in Winfield, but the town remains without regular police patrols.

Indiana State Police Lt. Louis Brown said state troopers "will continue to respond to calls out there" now that Lake County Sheriff Rogelio "Roy" Dominguez pulled patrols in the town, and no time frame has been set regarding how long the service will remain in Winfield.

The Town Council on Tuesday decided against a resolution to pay the Lake County Sheriff's Department $100,000 that Dominguez was seeking to continue police service in Winfield. Council members also decided to take no action on an ordinance to start a marshal program.

Brown said Winfield will not have to pay Indiana State Police to respond to emergency calls.

Brown said 46 state troopers are assigned to the Lowell post, which responds to incidents in seven counties. The district also is responsible for monitoring the interstates, Brown said.

Town Council President Jim Hicks on Tuesday said state police will not provide routine patrols in Winfield, but he has contacted area police departments about the possibility of contracting with them to patrol Winfield.

Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch said he hasn't been contacted by Winfield but noted $100,000 would not be enough for Merrillville to provide police service in Winfield.

Petruch said he agrees with Dominguez that Winfield should have established its own police protection "years ago."

Bill Stack, president of the Winfield/Lakes of the Four Seasons Chamber of Commerce, said he hasn't talked to Winfield businesses about the policing issues, but he thinks the matter can hurt business in town.

"We're trying to sell Winfield," Stack said. "This type of publicity doesn't help."

He hopes the Town Council will develop a long-term agreement with the next Lake County sheriff to receive adequate patrols and service from the Sheriff's Department in 2011.

"Winfield businesses definitely want assurance that they will be protected," Stack said.

Mohammad Salameh, a manager at Baja's restaurant, said he and customers were confused about whom to call for emergencies after Dominguez removed patrols in town.

Salameh said he's pleased state police will respond to emergencies, but he wants regular patrols to deter crime.

He said he also was happy to see a private security guard monitoring a Winfield bank Wednesday.

Tim Heidbreder, owner of Buddy and Pal's, said he supports the council's decision, and he isn't concerned about security in town. Heidbreder thinks the policing issues will be resolved after the next Lake County sheriff is elected.

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