Capt. Dial Reccommends: Treatment, Incarceration, Adequate Huntington Police Staff

Updated 3 days ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Capt. Dial Reccommends: Treatment, Incarceration, Adequate Huntington Police Staff

Huntington Police Captain Hank Dial told the council Public Safety Committee of his proposed three step solution to continued combat of the city's drug epidemic: Treatment for those who can; arrest and incarceration for those that need to be; and staff and equip HPD to a level to achieve these actions.

Dial proposed returning the department to 111 authorized officers. Currently, the department has 89 (six additional are on extended medical or military leave).

"89 limits our ability to be proactive," Dial said. "Our people are exhausted," adding that some have worked 24 hours straight during specific incidents.

He praised the work of the department, including Det. Chris Sperry, who was present with Dial.

In explaining his proposal Dial stressed that "we can't  arrest ... and narcan ... our way out of it. It will take a  multifaceted solution that involves   rehabilitation and  incarceration of people  bringing this scorage to the  city."

Dial clarified statements that a drug "turf" or "gang" war has broken out in Huntington.

"We call them drug traffic organizations," Dial explained, adding that "drug dealing is a violent business. They do not have small business court."

He agreed that some of the actions "appear to have gang overtones," but are confined to a drug organization or a rival drug organization.

Referring to the sixteen 2017 homicides, Vence asked, "These are not random acts of violence?"

Dial repeated a statement from an earlier interview that they are drug related or stem from drug use. He stress if you do not want to be exposed to increased homicide risk in the city, "don't be involved in the drug trade" and "get out of a relationship" that has violent overtones.

So far in 2017, Dial noted that  about 5,000 grams of heroin has been seized (up from 2,600 grams in 2016) and that 60 persons have been indicted on felony drug charges whom he described as "mid to upper level" dealers.

Unfortunately,  Dial agreed with Vence that too often HPD makes an arrest only to find the suspect back on the street following release on bond.

Dial said, "Sometimes the people need to go to jail. We support putting them in cages. Some need to be locked up for a long time."

On a positive note, the addition of a mental health coordinator on overdose incidents has resulted in at least 30% of those revived actively entering a treatment center. "In the last month we had a 40% rate."

A quick response team now works 40 hours a week on overdose cases, seeking to persuade those who received emergency services to seek rehabilitation.

District 2 councilman Charles McComas asked about police response to smaller crimes such as a stolen lawn mower or  weedeater.

Dial emphasized that the police "want people reporting every crime, but if I have a homicide (investigation) going on, it will take longer to get to a stolen lawnmower."

He suggested that victims of smaller crimes make their report online through the link on www.hpdwv.com or use the telecaller message.

Some members of the public were upset as they were not given a chance to speak at the committee meeting. 

 

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