Citizen alleges city park is no longer safe at night

The Buckhannon City Council encouraged citizens Thursday to utilize the anonymous tip line after one citizen publicly reported witnessing questionable activities on Park Street. Mayor Kenneth Davidson and the council said the anonymous tip line is a private line used by the Buckhannon Police Department and the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department.

They said that messages could be left for police anonymously. The line does not have caller identification and will not be traced back to the callers. The anonymity of the phone line is designed to encourage callers to report suspicious activity. The City Council encouraged citizens to utilize the anonymous tip line or to call the police when they suspect or witness any questionable activity.

Council members heard the concerns of Elissa Mills, who lives on Park Street. Mills said that recent events in her neighborhood recently have left residents feeling unsafe. She said that she and some neighbors witness illegal activity going on at the Buckhannon City Park nearby.

“We’re having a serious problem at the city park after dark,” Mills said. “It’s not just what we think is a problem; we’re seeing it. It’s getting kind of scary down there.”

Mills said that one night, she and some neighbors actually feared that they were going to get shot. She said there have been attempted break-ins at some of the houses there. She said these activities are new to the Park Street area, where she and her neighbors always got along with one another and felt safe. But it seems that things are different now.

Mills said she has reported these fears to law enforcement and has recorded some license plates of the vehicles that were driven by those she suspects of causing the “serious problem.”

“We are actually sitting, watching transactions take place,” Mills said. “We need some help down there.”

Mills said she has called police, and that police have responded to the scene. She said the problems haven’t stopped. Mills said she is willing to install security cameras, or whatever it takes, to help abate the issues she alleges are occurring in her neighborhood. She said she is willing to help however she can to put a stop to it.

Although she never used the term drugs to describe the transactions she said she has witnessed, Councilman Ron Pugh referred to the problem as a drug problem and said that Mills’ neighborhood is not unique in having this problem. He said that it is a problem in every neighborhood in Buckhannon. Pugh encourages citizens to report questionable activity to the police, even as it is happening. If police arrive to a scene too late, nothing can be done. If officers are notified of an event as it is taking place, they have an opportunity to witness it occur.

City Recorder Rich Clemens left a telephone number for the anonymous tip line. To leave an anonymous tip for the police, call 304-473-1001.