EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCharleston PD Works To Curb West Side Crime
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kera Mashek
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Sep. 17, 2013 10:43 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 17, 2013 10:55 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Two arson fires on Charleston's west side Tuesday are a reminder that unfortunately, serious crimes ranging from arson to burglary and shootings are not uncommon in the area.
The Charleston police department is trying to curb the problem. The department is one of just 15 agencies nationwide to receive grants from the US Department of Justice geared at reducing crime by offering a second chance to some criminals.
Part of the project involves getting community feedback to help root out problems that have plagued Charleston's west side for years.
People who live in and frequent Charleston's west side know it's got its share of problems from a lot of unsecured, abandoned properties...
"Mainly the homeless people out trying to find somewhere to live, maybe they're trying to stay warm or something," said west Charleston resident Eldo Taylor.
...to streets some say are overrun with drugs.
"I think if they clean up the drug problem, everything else will fall behind it and work itself out," said Samantha Beane of Dunbar, and often visits friends on the west side.
Through the "Drug Market Intervention" program, Charleston Police are hoping to make a difference. In the initial pilot phase, seven out of eight offenders participating have stayed out of trouble. With community partnerships, they're given a second chance to go to school, get clean with drug treatment, job search help and more.
"You know we've had crime for years and years, and we may continue to have some, but I hope it's less and less, and I think the more opportunities that open for somebody, maybe the crime looks less appealing," said Capt. Kim Mitchell with Charleston Police.
The next step in the project is to get west side input through an online survey. The survey hopes to gain a better insight into specifically what problems are in the community, with questions ranging from street lighting, to curfew concerns, recurring crimes and more. The department's hoping to get at least 600 responses by the end of next month, and the answers will guide changes to be made or services that could be offered to reduce crime on the west side.
Neighbors are just glad to see police taking an interest.
"Patrol them more, make your presence known--not just in this area, but the whole west side, and a lot of stuff will die down," Taylor said.
In the early stages, this program is showing positive results. If you take a look at just burglary cases, for example, in the area where the program's been in place, just 19 burglaries were reported last year. That's compared to 234 burglaries across the entire west side.
If you'd like to participate in the survey part of the project, log onto: http://CSurvey.WestSide.sgizmo.com/s3/. Paper copies can be obtained by calling the police department's community policing bureau at (304) 348-6470 ext. 17.
There will also be a town hall meeting September 26th at 6:30 p.m. at Stonewall Middle School.
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