String of thefts has many at breaking point

The recent string of break-ins at local homes and businesses as well as the thefts from vehicles, sadly, doesn’t come as a surprise.

Such criminal activity has become all too commonplace, and the drug-related crime spike plaguing our region isn’t unique to our neck of the woods. It’s a statewide epidemic.

When: That’s the million-dollar question. When will anything be done to address a growing problem that gets worse with each passing day?

As the frequency and magnitude of these occurrences continue to increase, so, too, does the frustration level of the average taxpayer. This is something politicians at the state and local level should note, especially as we enter a new legislative session in February.

Eventually, the voting public will say enough is enough — and we may be at that point now. This latest wave of theft left many area residents feeling violated. Perhaps it was the fact these incidents occurred during the holidays. Perhaps it’s because churches and businesses now also are being targeted. Perhaps it’s just become so abundant that it’s hard to ignore what’s happening in our communities and why.

That’s what makes last week’s announcement by the West Virginia State Police so alarming. Even though the force is down 51 trooper positions statewide, state budget woes have put any new cadet class for 2017 on the chopping block.

New West Virginia state troopers must successfully complete a 25-week course in Institute. The academy’s last graduating class was in May 2015. No further classes are scheduled at this time.

The Inter-Mountain historically, in the interest of public safety, has not published staffing levels for our police, sheriff departments or state police barracks. Nor have we published patrol times or the times when an area may have no law enforcement response available.

However, with growing public unrest and a true concern for the safety and well-being of our communities, we must continue to keep this topic in our spotlight. Every day our law enforcement officials risk their lives in the line of duty. Can we truly say our elected officials have provided these brave men and women with the resource tools and staffing support needed to effectively and safely do their jobs and protect our citizenry?

If the answer is no, then how long are we willing to tolerate a society that is ill-equipped to protect itself?

How much must we lose before funding law enforcement and fighting this drug crisis become top priorities?

We hope more voices will join ours to call attention to this matter and that our elected officials not only listen, but also take action to address this critical need.