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Portage City Hall

Portage City Hall

Tony V. Martin, The Times

In the wake of a 17-person school massacre in Parkland, Florida, and with a rash of recent school security concerns in Northwest Indiana, conventional wisdom calls for any available police presence to protect our schoolchildren.

It doesn't call for the overtime payments of a police officer to guard a municipal office that faces no proven security threat.

But some city officials say that's what Portage Mayor James Snyder has decided to do in his city, stationing a city police officer at City Hall — in fact, paying the officer overtime — to guard the clerk-treasurer's office.

Snyder has done this even though Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham neither requested nor feels necessary that measure of security.

City Council President Mark Oprisko, D-at large, rightly bristled over the move recently, noting the Snyder administration claims the officer is needed to secure utility department payments flowing into the office and the employees who collect them.

"The logic used by the administration is that businesses pay with cash, and large amounts of money is being taken to City Hall for utility payments," Oprisko said. "This is nothing but a joke."

Stidham said most of the utility payments flowing into his office are made via check or online payments, not cash that would require armed security.

Snyder did not return requests for comment on the matter.

Few taxpayers desire their resources to be spent on unneeded layers of government.

Still more want to see their police officers deployed in a way most conducive to protecting the public.

Meanwhile, schools throughout Northwest Indiana have seen a wave of security concerns since last month's school massacre in Florida.

Among those concerns have been the arrest of an 18-year-old student for carrying a loaded handgun into Griffith High School, a district-wide Portage schools lockdown last month after two men were caught carrying BB-guns that looked like standard firearms near a middle school and a 15-year-old Portage High School student being arrested for making threats of gun-related violence against the school.

This era clamors for any extra police resources to be funneled to securing the places where we send our children every day.

Paying overtime for a cop to guard a municipal office — where the elected office supervisor himself feels the protection in unnecessary — is bad government.


Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.