Chief Compares City to Last Job

Compared to his previous work area in Virginia, Wheeling has more violent crime and harder drug use, said Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.

Schwertfeger took over the department in June after working as captain of the Albemarle County, Va., Police Department Operations Bureau. It has been about six months since he took the job in Wheeling.

”The crimes here are more serious and frequent. … In Virginia, the drug base was marijuana. Here, it’s primarily pills and heroine,” he said, noting such drugs tend to increase incidents of related crime. ”They cause people to do crazy things.”

And because of this harder drug use, Schwertfeger said there were some ”turf wars” in the form of shootings in the city during his first few weeks as chief, mainly on Wheeling Island.

The Island, he noted, has the highest volume of calls for police service of all neighborhoods in the city.

To help tamp down the crime, Schwertfeger said, he has been saturating the area with additional patrols.

Schwertfeger noted he is surprised there aren’t gangs in the city because of the type of drugs used and dealt.

He attributes the lack of gang activity to the public schools having school resource officers who work with youth during the school year in addition to summer activities.

”I think they have tried to come into the city and recruit, but we’re working hard to keep that from happening,” he said of gang activity.

A Moundsville native, Schwertfeger spent several years with the Albemarle County Police Department before coming to Wheeling. He graduated from John Marshall High School in 1984, West Liberty State College in 1989 and the FBI National Academy in 2009.