Tips to Police Can Make a Difference

Members of a special law enforcement task force deserve high commendation for a “blitz” that took a large number of alleged criminals off the streets in Ohio County last week. But praise also is due to members of the public who helped make some of it happen.

Wheeling Police, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, West Virginia State Police and U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld’s office participated in the initiative as members of the Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team. The five-day saturation patrol, or “blitz,” resulted in 49 felony and misdemeanor arrests. Dozens of citations also were issued.

Formed to coordinate law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers, the MHIT has had notable success. In addition to making 120 arrests during the first four months of the year, the team has taken $62,493 worth of illegal drugs off local streets.

In discussing last week’s activities, Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger noted the MHIT “paid extra attention to certain areas of the city … based upon what we’ve been hearing from members of the community.”

In other words, concerned – and courageous – local residents provided tips that helped the team.

Law enforcement officials frequently stress they need the public’s help in preventing and solving crimes. Last week’s “blitz” was an example of how that can work.

It also should encourage members of the public who, no doubt, wonder how much good they are doing when they give tips to police and sheriff’s deputies. As last week makes clear, the answer is that law enforcement agencies really do act on such information, often decisively.

The results of last week’s initiative should encourage other local residents to serve as eyes and ears for law enforcement agencies. Doing so can make our neighborhoods and communities safer.