A dangerous incident in Paden City Saturday morning has led to discussion about police department mutual aid agreements, jurisdictions, and hiring an additional officer.
At approximately 1:30 a.m. 911 received a report of a man a porch on North Seventh Avenue who had a gun and as banging on the home's door in an attempt to enter.
According to New Martinsville Police Chief Tim Cecil, "They could not reach a Paden City police officer." Willing to help, four NMPD officers, including Cecil, responded to the scene.
They detained the subject, but the could not arrest him as they were not within their jurisdiction. The Sistersville Police Department responded, as did the Wetzel County Sheriff's Office, who made the arrest.
Cecil pointed out that currently Paden City only has two officers who are trying to cover the town 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Quite frankly, that's a nearly impossible task and he understood their difficulty.
When learning of the incident at New Martinsville's council meeting Monday evening, Mayor Keith Nelsen instructed Cecil to contact Paden City and get any necessary paperwork completed so they nearby towns can have official mutual aid agreements in place.
Paden City Police Chief Mike Kelly echoed Cecil's description of Paden City's current predicament, "The fact is that right now there are two of us covering it 24 hours a day. Quite frankly, we're near exhaustion."
They actually have four officers on staff, but currently one is in the State Police Academy and one is in National Guard Boot Camp. But there is a resolution on the horizon. The officer at the academy is scheduled to graduate Dec. 21 and return to service in the city. Also, the city is currently in the process of interviewing for a fifth full-time officer.
"We feel we might be better serviced if we had another police officer on the force," said Mayor John Hopkins at Monday evening's regular Paden City Council meeting.
He stated that it would be better to have another police officer full time rather than using part-time officers from other agencies, citing no grievances against part-time help but explaining that covering Paden City is not among their regular duties. A new full-time police officer would have to be certified. The council and police department are still in the process of contacting potential officers.
"I'm more than just a little disturbed at all the complaining that is going on about this incident," said Kelly. "We respond there (Sistersville) from time to time when they need help, but never once complained about it.
"Everyone knows that we are stripped to the limit. We are doing the very best we can." He added that this was the first time they have needed help from neighboring police.
Further, Kelly said it is his understanding that 911 called his cell phone during the incident in an attempt to get a response from the city. His phone wasn't turned on and he said 911 did not attempt to call his home number, which he said they have on file.
In another matter, Paden City Police Chief Mike Kelly confirmed that a break-in has recently occurred at the Paden City Public Library.
Per telephone interview Monday, Kelly relayed the details of the break-in, which occurred sometime between closing on Nov. 21, 5 p.m., and Nov. 23, 9:40 a.m., when a worker at the library noticed the break-in.
Kelly reported that approximately $250 was stolen from the library, along with a checkbook that belongs to the library. Kelly stated that no checks were written from the account.
So far there is no news of who might have been involved in the break-in, though Kelly reported that police are checking surveillance cameras located in the area.
Also, no damage was done to the library. Kelly reported that the suspect(s) pried open a door to get into the library. He said the library has taken corrective action to ensure this does not happen again.
Kelly would like anyone with any information on the break-in to call the Paden City Police at 304-337-2281.
Lastly, The New Martinsville Police Department is warning residents to be safe and vigilant against crime during the holiday season. The warning comes after one attempted and two successful breaking and enterings have occurred in the 900 block area of Fifth Street.
Detective Donnie Harris said the thieves are breaking into homes during the nighttime, stealing purses and things of that nature. "It appears that they are after money, drugs, and items to sell for drugs," said Harris. He further elaborated that they might be targeting the town's older population.
The crimes are occurring overnight, while the residents are home, asleep. "To me, that makes the person very desperate and dangerous, to be doing something while people are home," said Harris.
There are some actions residents can take to help prevent such thefts. The most obvious is to keep all doors and windows locked. Also, don't leave prescriptions or purses where people can see them through a window. Further, don't leave Christmas gift in vehicles.
NMPD Chief Tim Cecil said some cars have been targets of thefts in the greater downtown area.
Finally, Harris asks all to pay extra attention to their surroundings. "If you see or hear anything suspicious, let the NMPD know by calling 304-455-9100," he said. "We'd much rather go there and not find something, than to not go there at all." Also, he cautioned residents not to try to investigate anything suspicious themselves.