NW Ind. town votes down police patrol

October 7, 2010 6:31:52 AM PDT
Residents of a Northwest Indiana town without police patrol feels it is caught in political squeeze play and resident safety could be compromised.

The Lake County sheriff pulled patrols last Friday after officials in Winfield failed to pay a $100,000 bill for patrol services.

Despite the economy, construction is a feature of the tidy town. While emergencies on its streets will be answered by Lake county and state police, speeders and others willing to take some chances with the law won't find themselves pulled over too often.

"We feel we are being held hostage," said Jim Hicks, Winfield town council president.

Hicks voted Tuesday night to give the county what it wants -- $100, 000 to patrol his town. But he was on the losing end of a 3-2 vote to not pay the county and now Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez won't be offering his squad cars around there anytime soon. Originally the county wanted $300,000 for the service.

"The problem is that Lake County has been requested to institute an income tax and they have not done that so we have not had the ability to increase the tax levies since 2007," said Hicks.

Winfield's tax base ranks 497th out of 512 municipalities in Indiana. Some residents fear that no policing opens the door to criminal enterprise.

"It is a bad thing. You don't want to step on anybody's toes as far as who's doing what and what's going on but it has just got to be fixed," said Manny Rodriguez

"You've got to find an answers you cannot have this Winfield growing as it is and not expect to have the people protected," said Cathy Vega. "I am willing to pay, absolutely.

Winfield resident Pam Swiss understands. The retired Indiana state auditor used to set the tax rates for this region. And though she's a Republican, she says government has to play a role in policing.

"The best thing they could do now is negotiate with Lake County, pay the price and continue the great coverage we've had in the last years," said Swiss.

ABC7 left several requests for comment with Sheriff Roy Dominguez but our calls were not returned.

Dominguez is term-limited and a new sheriff will be elected this November.


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