Police urge LaPorte County councilman to resign over Facebook rant

2014-03-24T22:44:00Z 2014-03-25T19:44:53Z Police urge LaPorte County councilman to resign over Facebook rantStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 24, 2014 10:44 pm  • 

La PORTE | The law enforcement community Monday night asked for the resignation of a La Porte County councilman who after a speeding ticket said police ought to be out catching ''real criminals'' and other derogatory remarks on Facebook.

"'I find these negative law enforcement comments troubling and concerning coming from a councilman who has the ability to make decisions and votes on decisions that directly impact law enforcement in our county,"' said Greg Radiger, a Michigan City police officer who spoke on behalf of Fraternal Order of Police Dunes Lodge 75.

The FOP also consists of members from Trail Creek Police and the La Porte County Sheriff's Department.

Matt Bernacchi was ticketed March 4 by a La Porte County sheriff's deputy for traveling 70 mph in a 55 mph zone on Ind. 2. On his Facebook page, Bernacchi chastised police and expressed sarcasm toward the officer who gave him the ticket.

"As the fine officer handed me my ticket all I can think of is why are they harrassing taxpayers over a speed and not the drug dealers who are killing the children of La Porte County on a weekly basis," was among Bernacchi's posted statements.

He added, "I think it's time to regroup and make our priorities straight. Thanks officer for the ticket, now arrest a real criminal and make the streets safe. Remember to protect and serve not harrass," Bernacchi said.

Radiger said traffic enforcement is necessary to reduce motor vehicle crashes and accomplish other things like reducing drug dealing by seizing narcotics discovered in vehicles during stops.

"If traffic control is just harrassment, then why are 30 percent of our yearly law enforcement deaths occurring during a traffic stop?" Radiger asked.

Bernacchi did not resign and said he has supported funding requests for law enforcement.

"As far as it comes to sheriff's vehicles and funding mechanisms for a program to keep drugs off the street, I've always supported it. That is all I have to say," Bernacchi said.

Mark Yagelski, La Porte County Council president, said there are no laws governing statements on Facebook that would allow the council to discipline Bernacchi in any way.

Had Bernacchi posted some offensive pictures, though, Yagelski said the County Council could have decided to take some sort of action against Bernacchi.

Bernacchi has been a member of the council for five years.

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