50 attend Community Watch meeting

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson Elkins Mayor Van Broughton, at left, speaks during Wednesday’s first meeting of the Community Watch for First Ward, with, from left, Cpl. T.H. Foster, canine officer Brandon Tice and Chief Glenn Galloway of the Elkins Police Department.

ELKINS — More than 50 residents took part in the first meeting of the Community Watch for First Ward Wednesday night at Jennings Randolph Elementary School.

Elkins Police Chief Glenn Galloway and four officers led the meeting, emphasizing that residents need to call 911 if they witness a crime or suspicious behavior.

“If you see it, report it,” Senior Patrolman C.G. Boatwright told the crowd. “We’ll respond as fast as we can get there.”

“We need your help just as much as you guys want the help,” Boatwight said, urging residents to call 911 if they see suspicious persons in their neighborhoods late at night. “I’ve made many drug arrests from suspicious persons calls.”

Senior Patrolman K.A. Shiflett, who Galloway has put in charge of the Community Watch program, handed out spread sheets to residents for use in writing down serial numbers and descriptions of their property, for use if any of their belongings need to be reported stolen. He also handed out sheets designed to help residents keep “personal firearm records” of their property.

During a training session, Galloway demonstrated for the crowd how important it is to give accurate, detailed descriptions of people and/or vehicles when calling 911.

Galloway noted that the Elkins Police Department, which he pointed out is “the only 24/7 police department in the county currently,” includes 13 officers, a dispatcher and a parking enforcement officer.

Several residents asked if 13 is enough officers for a town the size of Elkins, and canine officer Brandon Tice noted that Clarksburg has more than 40 police officers, and Bridgeport has about 60.

“But they have a little higher population and more businesses than we do,” he said.

City Treasurer Tracy Judy, a First Ward resident, pointed out that it costs the city about $132,000 to hire a new officer for the first year, including training, salary, benefits, equipment and so forth.

Mayor Van Broughton said city officials are going to try to find a way during budget discussions for the coming fiscal year to hire several more officers.

Boatwright and Cpl. T.H. Foster are the two EPD officers who are assigned to work with First Ward Community Watch participants.

City officials attending Wednesday’s meeting also included First Ward council members Bob Woolwine and Rob Chenoweth, and Fifth Ward Councilman David Parker, who is the chair of the Public Safety Committee.

The city plans to host additional Community Watch ward meetings in the coming months.