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Police Say Overall Violence Increasing

Reported: Apr. 28, 2014 10:22 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 28, 2014 10:30 PM EDT

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WINFIELD, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) Police officers understand the risks their jobs carry, and they admit they are constantly in fear that someone will threaten to or actually make an attempt to kill them.

The good news is that over the past 25 years, crimes against officers have trended downward. Local police say the bigger issue is a spike in violence overall...

John Perrine and Joe Crawford are both police chiefs in Putnam County, with a long history in local law enforcement and time with the US Marshals. Both admit, they've worried for their own personal safety and that the plot to kill a Charleston detective makes that everyday threat even more real.

"You always think that's a possibility or potential, but it just seems like now it's more of a reality than a possibiilty," said Eleanor Police Chief Joe Crawford.

But what concerns these officers most..is a spike in violent behavior across the board, some of which is aimed at the police investigating those crimes. Chief Crawford says often times, police are targeted because they're doing a good job to weed out the bad.

"If they feel like they're being targeted or whatever, then they try to turn the tables and try to rule by intimidation and fear," Crawford said.

"If people are willing to shoot at police, then they're willing to shoot at anybody. It's not just a police department issue. It's a society issue that's got to be dealt with at the various levels of the community," said John Perrine, Winfield Police Chief.

Part of that goes back to the state's drug problem and out-of-state trafficking. Police say the gang mentality associated with the violent drug trade follows the dealers.

"You inherit that culture when you talk about Detroit, Columbus, a lot of the inner cities, that's the culture there, and it used to be for the longest time we were an exception, but now I think with society today and what we're dealing with, it's become commonplace for us here in West Virginia," said Crawford.

Police say the root of it all goes back to generational changes with more defiant attitudes and lack of respect for authority and changing that starts in every home.

"I think it starts at a very young age, I really do. Young children get away with things that mom and dad say is okay and they continue to do that kind of inappropriate behavior, and it manifests to the point where children, people, and adults, don't understnad their responsible for their actions," said Perrine.

Putnam County recently launched a program called Urgent Call to help address some of those issues by creating partnerships with area churches.

Police also encourage everyone to report neighborhood problems, or suspicious activity to help curb violent crime.

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