Kristin Elkins, file | The Times
Officer Jose Mendez, of the Porter County Sheriff's
Department, pulls over a driver during DUI duty earlier
this year. Grants from the federally funded Operation
Pull Over and other sources regularly provide funding
for additional police patrols targeting impaired drivers
Grants help police add tools in trying
By Jeff Burton Sunday, October 2, 2011
As economic growth continues to stall, many
municipalities are seeing their coffers decrease.
Communities around Northwest Indiana and the south
suburbs are cutting back, tightening budgets and
trimming services and positions to stay solvent.
But local public safety officials say cutting manpower
and services could impact the safety of residents, and
before making drastic cuts they're looking for other
funding sources to keep streets safe and equip officers
and personnel with tools and technology needed for their
"Grants are an integral part of our operations," said
Cmdr. Rob Arnold with the Lake County Sheriff's
While grant dollars can't be used to prop up a
department budget, Arnold said Lake County's police
force is using targeted grant dollars for a number of
"Grant money supports our narcotics unit with purchase
money and equipment," he said. "Our marine unit is
almost entirely financed with grant money. Our computer
software system is supported with grant money."
Arnold said a recently awarded grant is being used to
develop an electronic ticketing program that will be
used by county officers.
In Valparaiso, Sgt. Mike Grennes said with mostly frozen
budgets, departments are looking for federal, state and
"We've received consistent funding from some of them,"
He said the Valparaiso Police Department has regularly
received generous support from the Porter County
Substance Abuse Council to buy crash reconstruction
equipment and continue the department's Gang Resistance
Education and Training program, which helps promote
positive life choices with middle school students.
Pat Swanson, the department's Director of School Safety,
said a recent $64,000 grant from the Department of
Justice's Secure our Schools program will have a
positive affect on Valparaiso students, providing
officers with advanced school safety training and giving
them eyes inside the city school buildings.
"All officers will have access to the school cameras on
their mobile units," she said.
Instant access to the security camera network, Swanson
said, will give officers an idea of what they face
should a public safety emergency arise.
Preventing emergencies is the aim of a number of grants.
In Lansing, the village police department received a
grant from the Illinois Commerce Commission's Public
Education and Enforcement Research Study program earlier
this year to promote railroad safety. After experiencing
two train-related fatalities in recent years, officers
have used the grant to teach children and community
members about what not to do when they see active rail