Meeting to discuss closure of West Virginia State Police post

ELIZABETH — A public meeting to discuss the closing of the West Virginia State Police Detachment in Elizabeth will be held 7 p.m. Monday in the main courtroom at the Wirt County Courthouse.

”We want to be able to get everyone in the same room to see if we can do anything to stop this,” Wirt County Commissioner Robert Lowe said.

State Police announced this week the closure of the Hundred Detachment in Wetzel County, the Grantsville Detachment in Calhoun County and the Elizabeth Detachment in Wirt County, all effective Jan. 1.

Lowe said they have been in contact with officials in Calhoun and Wetzel counties where the other closing detachments are and they have expressed interest in attending. Word is being sent out to other area officials to see who else will come.

The Calhoun County Commission has called a special meeting for 11 a.m. Monday to pass a resolution to oppose the closing of the Grantsville detachment.

State Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, suggested having the meeting.

She is working on having a representative from the governor’s office or someone from Charleston who can speak on this matter.

State lawmakers have been talking about how the state is facing a $300-$400 million budget deficit in the next fiscal year. Cuts have already been made and more could be on the way.

”I want to know how much money the state thinks they will save by closing down these three detachments,” Boley said.

Without those detachments, other departments and state police detachments will be covering those areas.

The Hundred Detachment’s area of responsibility will be covered by the Paden City Detachment. The Grantsville Detachment’s area of responsibility will be covered by both the Clay and Glenville Detachments. The Elizabeth Detachment’s area of responsibility will be covered by the Parkersburg Detachment.

Boley said it could be over a 30-minute drive for some State Police personnel to reach areas in Wirt County quickly.

Officials in Calhoun County voiced similar concerns about being 30-40 miles away from State Police assistance and were also worried about response times and having adequate police coverage.

Some of these smaller counties have a limited police force through their sheriff’s departments and have relied on cooperation between them and the State Police to have police protection for their areas.

”This could be bad,” Boley said. ”Public safety is what government should be funding above all else.”

In the past, there have been talk of closing State Police detachments which prompted public mobilization. Meetings were held and with the large turnout of citizens giving input resulted in some areas able to help keep needed services, Boley said.

”I am expecting a full house again this time,” she said of the upcoming Elizabeth meeting.