Pat Duffy, Kathie Hoffman, Gloria Delbrugge and Judy Bischof do not want crime to overrun Warwood, so they are taking an active approach to protect Wheeling's northernmost neighborhood.
"There is a firestorm brewing in Wheeling. We have to take back our city," said Duffy, a Warwood resident and Wheeling traffic commissioner.
Duffy made his comments during a special meeting at the Warwood School, during which he and other neighborhood residents commented about how to improve their community. Although some of 90-minute conversation focused on positive measures - such as plans to install a community garden and to hold a "light up night" to kickoff the holiday season - Duffy and the others said there are problems that need to be addressed now.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Warwood community meeting organizer Judy Bischof speaks during the Wednesday meeting as Wheeling City Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge listens.
"I really don't feel we are getting the police patrols we deserve," said Delbrugge, a councilwoman who represents Warwood in Wheeling's First Ward.
She also said "some of the new officers" need to understand that traffic and parking violations need to be enforced.
When the conversation turned to whether Warwood has - or should have - its own dedicated police cruiser at a given time, Delbrugge said she constantly emphasizes the issue with City Manager Robert Herron and the chief of police. Duffy said having a cruiser dedicated to Warwood, which he and Delbrugge refer to as "Car Five," may not solve the community's problems.
"Even if you get a Car Five up here, I am not sure they are going to do their job," Duffy said of the officers, agreeing with Delbrugge that some of them seem hesitant to enforce certain violations. "We need to get them up off their butts and out on the beat."
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger - who just recently took office after replacing chief Robert Matheny - said via telephone that anyone who has a problem with his department should not hesitate to contact him. He said residents can call his office at 304-234-2708, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schwertfeger did not attend the Warwood meeting because he was at Woodsdale's neighborhood watch meeting Wednesday. However, he was introduced to Warwood residents during their regular watch meeting held last week.
Hoffman, Ohio County assessor and a Warwood resident, said she sometimes wishes she was not the assessor but the sheriff so she could arrest people.
"We need a police presence in Warwood. We have a drug problem and we have a gang problem," Hoffman said.
Meeting organizer Bischof noted some "rental properties" are a concern because of maintenance issues and garbage.
This prompted Delbrugge to tell everyone a city ordinance requires residents to place their garbage in containers, rather than just bags. Duffy also agreed this is another problem.
On the positive side, all those at the meeting expressed optimism that Warwood's problems could be fixed, noting the community has many assets, including the playground areas and Garden Park. There will be another Warwood community meeting at 6:15 p.m. July 12 at the Warwood Christian Church on North 17th Street.