Marshal Dan Ball new office.jpg

Winfield Town Marshal Dan Ball stands in what will be his new office at the Town Hall. The town is expanding its Police Department.

Rob Earnshaw, The Times

It's no secret Winfield is rapidly growing.

But town leaders must continue working to ensure public safety services match the population and its needs.

If the visible evidence of new home construction throughout the town — and especially along Randolph Street — isn't enough, then just look at the numbers illustrating Winfield's brisk population growth.

Winfield issued 87 building permits for single-family homes in 2017, up from 50 last year.

Census data and estimates show Winfield's population has grown by 142 percent since 2000. More than 3,000 new residents have moved to the town in that time period, making it perennially one of the fastest-growing places in Indiana.

Realizing these trends, Winfield town leaders established the town's first-ever town marshal's office within the past few years.

By next year, town officials expect the marshal's office to grow to three full-time officers.

But major crime issues continue to be handled by contract with the Lake County Sheriff's Department, an agency better equipped to manage criminal investigations and police matters that go beyond writing traffic tickets.

Now town leaders say they'll be revisiting the sheriff's contract soon, with an eye toward diminishing Winfield's reliance on sheriff's police.

They must exercise care in doing so.

Two recent armed robberies this year and a bank robbery last year are reminders major crimes can and do strike everywhere. Winfield, with its suburban neighborhoods, still is somewhat isolated by its rural surroundings, and it needs a reliable law enforcement agency to do any heavy lifting.

Contracting the services of an existing, major local law enforcement agency, rather than attempting to jump too quickly into its own full-time police department, is a more logical course of action. The town also should be weighing it expenses of maintaining a marshal's office versus revenue generated by traffic citations and the overall benefit.

Winfield is growing too quickly to take any shortcuts on quality public safety measures.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase, Editor Bob Heisse, Politics/History Editor Doug Ross and Managing Editor Erin Orr.