WHEELING - From reports of burglary to potential prostitution associated with an influx of natural gas industry workers, new Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said the police department is up to the task.
"This is the type of community support we need," Schwertfeger told a group of concerned residents Thursday at a Warwood Neighborhood Watch meeting. "It is rare to find this much interest from residents."
Schwertfeger, a Moundsville native, graduated from John Marshall High School in 1984, earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the former West Liberty State College in 1989 and is a 2009 graduate of the FBI National Academy. He moved to Wheeling after serving as a police captain in Albemarle County, Va.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger, left, addresses the Warwood Neighborhood Watch meeting Thursday as Cpl. Rick Roxby and Elm Grove residents Sharon and Bill O’Leary listen.
Following the meeting, Schwertfeger saidt one of the primary concerns associated with the recent influx of out-of-state oil and gas workers is prostitution, stressing he could not say whether the activity has increased since the workers arrived.
"Based on my training, that seems like a possibility," he said, noting the drilling work force consists primarily of relatively young men who are working away from home.
During the meeting, Wheeling Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge, a Warwood resident, mentioned that drilling industry water trucks traveling through the community may not be obeying the speed limit.
"They come through five or six at a time - they don't go 40 mph," she said.
Joining Schwertfeger to address the residents were Cpl. Rick Roxby and Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler. Schwertfeger assured residents his department will help make the area safer.
"We are going to be tough on crime," he said, noting the department may also take a different approach to traffic safety than it did under Matheny's watch.
Elm Grove resident Emma Lou Carle told Schwertfeger there have been several recent "robberies" in the area. However, he told here that most of these would probably not qualify as actual robberies, as they may be burglaries, thefts or break-ins.
Another Elm Grove resident, Bill O'Leary, is also concerned.
"At five o'clock in the afternoon, someone stole a safe out of someone's house," he said. "We have a lot of vandalism in Elm Grove."
Schwertfeger said residents should call the police when they see or hear of suspicious activity. He said his department would address their problems.
Delbrugge added there will be a Warwood community meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Warwood Middle School gym. Residents will have the chance to address the strengths and needs of the Warwood area.