Burns Harbor Town Council member Gene Weibl voiced lone opposition Wednesday
to equipping town police with Tasers.
“This is a weapon that has the ability to be used too carelessly,” he said,
adding it would open the town up to new liability so the town’s insurance
carrier should be consulted.
The council agreed to do more research, read a proposed Taser policy
submitted by town marshal Mike Heckman and be prepared to vote on his
request Nov. 13.
It would cost almost $6,000 for five Tasers and related equipment; Heckman
said he has the money in his budget and no officer would be required to use
a Taser if they did not feel comfortable doing so.
Councilman Mike Perrine, a former Burns Harbor police officer, said years
ago he was issued a stun gun but police had to get in close proximity to the
out-of-control person they were trying to subdue.
A Taser can be fired from a distance using electrical current to interrupt
voluntary muscle control. Perrine said he’d rather police Taser him five
times than shoot him five times or beat him to subdue him.
Councilman Jeff Freeze said he spoke to representatives of two communities
who authorize Taser use there and they recommended Burns Harbor allow that
option if needed. Freeze added the town could be open to lawsuits from
officers for not providing them with the necessary tools to protect
Council president Jim McGee said it’s an officer’s discretion how best to
control a situation and he trusts town officers. McGee asked about training
and Heckman outlined what would be available.
Councilman Greg Miller said it’s not impossible for a Taser to cause serious
bodily injury, but it’s generally considered non-lethal.
Chesterton, Porter and Ogden Dunes authorize Taser use for their respective
As far as Burns Harbor’s September police activity, Heckman said officers
responded to 362 incidents; six vehicles crashes, all property damage; made
three felony and nine misdemeanor arrests; issued 50 citations and gave 180
written and verbal warnings.
Town website upgrades
The council authorized soliciting requests for proposals to upgrade and
administer the town website, which recently was overtaken by a computer
The council expressed appreciation to volunteers who built the original site
years ago, but members agreed it’s time for a redesign and better
management. Residents Kurt Jordan and Toni Biancardi were thanked for
eliminating the virus.
Miller said a professional website is essential to marketing the town;
Freeze said it can be a valuable tool for economic development by making
information available to potential developers as well as the public.
Weibl said of the website, “Right now we don’t look professional. We need to
look professional. This is money that needs to be spent.”
In other business, the council voted 5-0 to approve a new lease with
American Tower that gives Burns Harbor a $50,000 signing bonus for extending
the current lease for an additional 30 years in five-year increments.
Beginning in 2014 the annual tower rent of just under $12,000 goes up 3
percent each year.
American’s cellular communications tower and equipment building is located
behind the town hall.
Town attorney Bob Welsh went over the terms of the lease extension and the
council accepted his recommendation to delete a clause that would have
increased the leased area if American made improvements beyond those
boundaries. Welsh also noted a clause that said the lease is a confidential
document did not apply because Burns Harbor is a town.
Fire equipment approved
On Miller’s motion the council unanimously OK’d Fire Department purchase of
a $8,500 thermo-imaging camera to replace its 15-year-old defective model.
“We need this to do a good job, and for the safety of the firefighters and
the public?” asked Miller.
Fire chief Bill Arney replied affirmatively. He said the camera will be used
to locate hot spots and their temperature without tearing out walls and
floors; the camera also can locate people.
Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said she’d determine which town account should
be used to fund the purchase.
Also Wednesday, a $51,000 Fire Department transfer was approved, the bulk of
it for salaries of part-time paramedic/EMTs to staff town ambulances.
Arney announced this weekend at the intersection of Indiana 149 and U.S. 20
firefighters will solicit donations for the Indiana burn camp, and that the
annual Fire Department spaghetti dinner will be Oct. 26 from 4 to 7 p.m. at
the fire station. Tickets can be purchased there or from a firefighter; cost
is $6 pre-sale, $8 at the door and an additional $1 for carry-out.
In September firefighters responded to 51 calls and spent 26.51 hours at
emergency scenes putting 1,130 miles on department equipment.
* As building commissioner, Arney reported nine new homes are under
construction in town in addition to several multi-unit apartment buildings.
* Trick-or-Treat was set for Oct. 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Police
and Fire departments will give out candy and glo-necklaces. Heckman said
extra patrols will be on duty.
* The council heard a presentation from Porter County tourism
executive director Lorelei Weimer regarding the multi-county Northern
Indiana Tourism Development Commission. She said Porter contributes $40,000
a year but is able to access $1.8 million in marketing for its Indiana Dunes
and Beyond the Beach attractions by leveraging NITDC partnerships.
* The council voted 5-0 formally adopting the proposed 2014 budget at
$3,603,311 although $683,066 will be cut because those sewer bonds have been
* Approved was having Cender & Company do a financial analysis of
possibly declaring the Traditions apartment complex a TIF district. The town
Redevelopment Commission will discuss the matter Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.
* Freeze said The Village POA has ordered three posts and Stop signs
to finish the four-way stop at Clifford and Chesterfield, and asked that the
Street Department install them.
* McGee said from now on a final agenda will be released on Monday
preceding the Wednesday council meetings rather than a draft agenda on the