Serious threats to the public sometimes merit extraordinary countermeasures. It happened in Marshall County, as we reported recently.
An investigation into illegal drug trafficking, dating back to 2011, was concluded successfully by local law enforcement officers and officials. Five people, including four Moundsville residents and a California woman, were convicted for their involvement in a drug ring. It handled as much as $17,000 worth of oxycodone a month.
Success in breaking up the ring might not have occurred but for use of wiretaps in which the pushers' telephone calls were monitored.
Electronic monitoring of Americans' communications has been in the news for some time. Questions about privacy have been raised - quite appropriately.
But most of what you may have read on the subject involves the federal government snooping for national security reasons.
As Marshall County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Cramer explained to our reporter, wiretapping is very uncommon in West Virginia. In fact, the wiretap warrant issued for the local investigation was the first one in this state for 23 years.
Cramer and investigators, armed with extensive documentation of their probe and why they needed to use wiretapping to pursue it, had to make several trips to Morgantown before they were able to convince a circuit judge to approve the warrant. Just five judges in the entire state are permitted to issue such warrants.
West Virginians have plenty of safeguards to ensure local and state authorities do not invade our privacy, in other words.
That said, local law enforcement officials who decided to use wiretapping are to be commended - and encouraged to continue using every legal tactic they can think of to do battle against drug pushers. Illegal drug traffickers are among the most devious, unscrupulous people in our midst. If fighting back against them requires unconventional methods, so be it.