Small town police getting connected

Two local police departments now have a stronger connection with state and other local law enforcement agencies, thanks to grants through the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services.

The Beech Bottom and Bethany police departments have received grants of $8,360 and $7,400, respectively, to acquire and install computer hardware and software to electronically record information about each call they handle.

The update also allows the departments to meet a requirement they submit such reports to the state electronically and most importantly, allows them and the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department and other local police departments to share information, said Bethany Police Capt. Larry Palmer and Beech Bottom Police Capt. Dan Casto.

“Smaller departments were once permitted to submit incident reports on paper because of the smaller volume (of incidents they handle), but they are now required to submit them electronically,” said Palmer.

“If we don’t report to the state, we don’t quality for grants for extra patrols, police cars, etc.,” said Casto.

But both small-town police chiefs said the change will benefit their departments in other ways.

They said the departments will have a computer record of incidents that occur at the same address or area, which can be accessed when another call is received. For example, an officer dispatched to a home where a disturbance has been reported can be alerted that incidents of domestic violence have occurred there.

The departments also are linked now to the Brooke County Sheriff’sDepartment and Wellsburg Police Departments, which can aid in ongoing investigations and assist Beech Bottom and Bethany officers when they are called to assist with incidents outside their municipalities, Casto said.

Beech Bottom Mayor George Lewis applauded Casto for his efforts in securing the grant, which required no local match from the village.

At a recent Bethany Council meeting, Bethany Mayor Jay Eisenhauer and Palmer recognized Police Capt. Darin Pizer and Lt. Mike Bolen for securing the grant for Bethany, which also didn’t require local matching funds.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)