Porter County Sheriff's Department


What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department

Grants for Police Patrol

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 times

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 jobs.

"Grants are an integral part of our operations," said Cmdr. Rob Arnold with the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

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 special services.

"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 local grants.

"We've received consistent funding from some of them," Grennes said.

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 crossings.

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