Indiana State Police raided the Lakes of the Four Seasons security office Friday morning as part of an investigation into controlled substances, impersonation of public servants, criminal confinement and other potential criminal offenses related to traffic stops.
Police said the investigation involves multiple allegations, but said no further details would be released Friday.
A source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the warrants were being served on Lakes of the Four Seasons security as part of a probe into reports of drunken driving and other traffic offenses that weren’t reported to state or local authorities.
In some cases, motorists driving on the private roadways of the gated subdivision were reportedly pulled over, detained and even assessed fines ranging into the hundreds of dollars, payable to the homeowners' association, the source said.
In a number of cases, security guards allowed allegedly drunken drivers to find other means of transportation home after being pulled over, the source said.
Questions remain regarding whether the security guards had the proper police authority to make any kind of traffic stop or detain suspects at all, the source said.
A fleet of marked and unmarked police vehicles arrived about 9 a.m. to execute a search warrant at the gated community's main entrance, where the security office is located, followed by a large RV-style vehicle.
Snow fell to the ground as several uniformed troopers entered the security office's side door. About 20 minutes later, one K-9 handler commanded his police dog to sniff and circle at least two LOFS security sports utility vehicles parked on the south end of the building.
As ISP investigators worked, troopers could be seen waving drivers through the gated entrance and past the security office without having them check in. About 10:25 a.m., state troopers could be seen searching the interior and trunks of two parked LOFS security vehicles.
State police were still on the scene as of 11:20 a.m.
When reached Friday afternoon at the LOFS dispatch center, a Lakes of the Four Seasons public safety representative said no one was available to speak with a reporter about the state police raid and then hung up the phone.
An ISP news release said the investigation was forwarded to the state police from the state's Attorney General’s office.
Reaction from LOFS residents was mixed.
Several LOFS residents chimed in on social media as news broke, wondering whether the raid would somehow force a drastic rise in HOA fees in the aftermath. Others questioned if the raid was necessary, arguing the fines issued by LOFS security officers are legal as part of a covenant signed when homeowners purchase property there.
Some were angered at the thought of a LOFS security officer potentially letting drunken drivers off with a slap on the wrist instead of reporting them to the appropriate authorities. Others claimed Lake and Porter county police would rarely assist on drunken driving calls over the years, leaving LOFS security with their hands tied.
This search comes on the heels of last week's announcement that Lakes of the Four Seasons public safety department had its emergency vehicle designation revoked by the Indiana Department of Transportation following an investigation into its department's vehicles.
The investigation by INDOT and Indiana State Police found LOFS public safety vehicles were using improper lights, INDOT spokesman Adam Parkhouse said. Emergency vehicles such as police vehicles are categorized by red and blue lights.
Last week, Lakes of the Four Seasons public safety representatives did not respond to The Times' inquiries about the safety vehicles, but an Oct. 24 post on the LOFS information page noted they were "stunned" by the move.
"We were stunned by this and have since been working feverishly with our state representatives and Lake County law enforcement to rectify this problem. As with anything tied to government, it is a long process," The Lakes of Four Seasons announced on its Facebook page Oct. 24.
"The POA Board wanted all residents to be aware of this, and they wanted to show their transparency in this situation, as rumors have been started on social media," the post read.
Parkhouse said public safety groups such as at Lakes of the Four Seasons should use yellow and white lights.
"We don't recognize them (LOFS) as emergency vehicles," Parkhouse said. "It was a larger investigation ... whether or not they violated the terms of the designation; we found they had improper lights."
The Indiana attorney general's office contacted Indiana State Police about Lakes of the Four Seasons' use of improper lights, Indiana State Police spokeswoman Sgt. Ann Wojas. The state police in turn contacted INDOT, which conducted an investigation, Wojas said.
Check back at nwi.com for updates as this story develops.