Police, Deputies Should Cooperate

Relations between Wheeling and Ohio County officials seem to be good, for the most part. Several examples of mutually beneficial cooperation have occurred during the past few years.

Any rift between those in city and county government needs to be addressed decisively, then, for the good of local residents.

Unfortunately, there is such a dispute, and it involves law enforcement. It is between some members of the Wheeling Police Department and some of the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department.

As we have reported, the departments are at odds over a state highway safety program that often involves local law enforcement agencies, sometimes providing them with funding.

One result of the split was that the sheriff’s department did not participate in a “Click It or Ticket” seat-belt enforcement sweep in this area from May 9-26. Deputies also have not been involved in other similar initiatives.

It needs to be emphasized that, to our knowledge, the rift has had no adverse impact on cooperation between the departments in investigating serious crimes. The level of professionalism in both departments seems to preclude that.

Still, the departments should be cooperating in every way – again, for the good of Ohio County residents, whether they live in Wheeling or outside the city.

Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger and Sheriff Pat Butler do not seem to have been involved directly in the unpleasantness. That should make it easier for them to address it.

They should do just that, perhaps beginning with a meeting to discuss differences between some in their departments and agree on solutions to them. The longer the dispute festers, the more difficult it will be to end – but end it should.