Indiana town of 560 hopes to hire full-time cop for first time in 10 years – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather

INDIANAPOLIS (DREAM) — 4 Indiana towns were granted U.S. Department of Justice grants to include policeman to the neighborhoods.

The town of La Paz, Indiana, has actually not had a full-time police in ten years. With its grant, the Town Council wishes to pay the income of a brand-new policeman for 3 years. About 560 individuals call the town of house. The downtown includes a bank, an alcohol shop, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars post. There are no traffic lights on the primary drag. A volunteer fire department and one part-time law enforcement officers secure the town. The town likewise has 2 patrol cars for its part-time officer.

Roger Ecker, a long-lasting local, is the Town Council president. He stated that “what I think is the biggest problem for the majority of small towns is the cost of the health insurance. Yes, I can afford the salary, but the cost of health insurance continues to rise,” Ecker stated.

10 years back, the town had 2 full-time law enforcement officers. Both of the police officers had medical insurance through their partners, which conserved the town a lots of cash. Ecker states the expense of medical insurance has to do with 30% of an officer’s total income. When the officers retired the Town Council had no option however to cut their full-time authorities department out of the spending plan.  

La Paz is a drive of more than 2 hours north from downtown Indianapolis. The primary roadway through town is Old U.S. 31. The state federal government deserted the roadway a number of years back and rerouted U.S. 31 east of town, which altered whatever.

“We lost a lot of that traffic, which we lost a lot business, so it has really hit our tax base and when that happen it really drove us down to where we couldn’t have an officer full-time anymore,” Ecker stated.

Recently, the town was granted a $120,000 Justice Department grant to spend for a law enforcement officer. The news was huge enough to put the grant statement — plus a welcoming to News 8 for reporting on it — on a digital check in the front backyard of the fire department.

“The starting salary is $45,000, two weeks’ vacation with health insurance,” Ecker stated.

The town needed to ensure a 4th year of the income, which Ecker states will need some belt-tightening around City center.

La Paz might be little, however it’s not unsusceptible to criminal activity. In 2020, the criminal activity rate surge 14% and traffic offenses increased 38% over the previous year. Heroin usage has actually sneaked into town and brought with it home criminal activities. In 2020, the Marshall County Constable’s Workplace made near 500 go to the town, and the part-time La Paz police responded to 8 calls. The belief around town is when police officers exist individuals tend to act much better.

“It would be nice to have a little presence here so people have a little fear,” stated Vince Feitz, a long-time local who included that having a police officer around keeps the less-than-honest individuals away. 

Feitz likewise stated, “You know, in the end, maybe it is an expense that maybe everybody doesn’t support, but, you know what, our future is our kids, and if we don’t do something to protect them walking down the street, what do we have? We don’t have anything.”

The brand-new police will have 3 square miles of town to patrol, and the assistance of the Town Council. 

The council leader, Ecker, stated the brand-new “police officer will find something different about La Paz than bigger communities. I think they will find more respect and I think that goes a long way.”

The Town Council president likewise stated he acknowledges that working with a law enforcement officer now is really challenging, however, if all works out, the town wishes to have its very first full-time authorities on the streets in next 90 days. 

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.