Town marshal system wins early approval in Winfield

2014-01-28T22:15:00Z 2014-01-28T22:31:35Z Town marshal system wins early approval in WinfieldSusan Erler susan.erler@nwi.com, (219) 662-5336 nwitimes.com
January 28, 2014 10:15 pm  • 

WINFIELD | Creation of a town marshal system was back on the table Tuesday in Winfield after failing in previous attempts.

The Town Council granted preliminary approval to an ordinance creating a town marshal position and laying out the duties and responsibilities of the job.

A final vote could come as early as next month.

Town Council President Gerald Stiener called the favorable vote "a small first step" in the process.

A town marshal would not replace existing police protection services provided by the Lake County Sheriff's Department under contract with the town, but rather would add another layer of public safety, Stiener said.

"They are so important we can't be without them," Stiener said of the Sheriff's Department.

"Having said that, there are some things we think we can add to and improve on," Stiener said.

For example, a town marshal might patrol town parks or safety zones near schools, while major crimes would continue to be handled by sheriff's police, Stiener said.

A town marshal system also would enable the town to collect fines for violations, he said.

Details of how sheriff's police services would co-exist with town marshal services have been discussed with Sheriff John Buncich but have not yet finalized, officials said Tuesday.

An infusion starting this year of local option income tax funding to municipalities in Lake County prompted Winfield officials to have another go at establishing a town marshal system, they said.

The town's share of local option income tax, expected to amount to about $40,000 annually, would help cover salaries and expenses. The money can only be used for public safety.

A previous attempt in 2010 to have a Winfield town marshal failed partly out of concern over the cost. Town officials first looked into having a town marshal in 2000, but the move didn't advance.

A town marshal would have authority to appoint deputy marshals, under terms of the ordinance.

Hiring and salary details would be worked out pending final adoption of the ordinance.

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