OPINION COLUMN: Let's Get Behind HPD and Run Bad Guys out of Our Huntington

Updated 6 years ago by David "Alligator" Williams
Huntington has a drug problem. The citizens are starting to be aware of this. This is a good thing. Once, it is admitted that there is a problem, then, treatment can start.

There are some hurt feelings that will go along with the confession of a drug problem, that is why I feel that it is necessary to clarify a few points.

An article on www.huntingtonnews.net (http://www.huntingtonnews.net/50748 ),displayed some feelings by Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook, and he is sounding slightly defensive.
The Huntington Police Department IS doing a very good job. They are making arrests. It is the nature of police work to be reactive. It is hard to be proactive because of having sufficient evidence, manpower, ect. So due to several circumstances, often the HPD can only react to crime. They are not responsible for preventing crimes.
The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington News. Net and out local television station are full of the news of arrests made by The Huntington Police Department. Holbrook said in the article, “We have learned to do more with less.” Mr. Holbrook is very correct, The HPD has admirably fought it’s end of the battle.

So if The Huntington Police Department is not at fault for the spike in drugs and crime, then, who is? The blame falls in a few different areas. First, we must understand that this problem is not isolated to just Huntington. Though the problem has been in big cities for years, it has recently spread to mid-sized cities and small towns all over the country.

In his book Money Town, my friend David “Alligator Jackson” Williams wrote:
“Ask John Ross what is to blame for the drug culture that is being cultivated in Huntington. He will tell you that it is MTV’s fault. Ross feels that MTV made heroes out of criminal rappers. He thinks that MTV glorifies street thugs. Rappers and convicted felons like Lil’ Wayne have become role models. Young innocent West Virginian teenagers dream of either being Lil’ Wayne or having a boyfriend like him.
The rap videos glamorize the thug lifestyle. Ross believes that teenagers are brainwashed into idolizing common drug dealers. The kids then emulate their heroes by mimicking their lifestyle. “Geesh…” Ross thought. “John Wayne where are you now when we need heroes and real role models?”

The drug culture is a major problem. It is not just MTV but movies and songs. Thugs are often idolized by today’s youth. Kids are trying to imitate their heroes.

Williams cites another problem in Money Town:
“Huntington had even more local habitual criminals running the streets than they had Detroit drug dealers. It was a vicious circle. The trash needed drugs so they would steal. Cops carry the trash off of the streets into the jail. But the criminal system keeps releasing the trash back onto the streets a short time later. The trash then gets caught breaking into an innocent hardworking taxpayer’s house and the circle keeps going around.”

The courts are a problem. Because of the courts being overworked and the jails and prisons being overcrowded, there is way too much plea bargaining going on. As a result, the criminals are not afraid of being caught. It just becomes a form of ‘time out’ to them.

The cop character in Money Town comes to this conclusion:
“There certainly is more to this business than putting bad guys in cages. The cops were actually dog catchers. They merely rounded up strays that were being disobedient. They got reports of someone breaking the law and then they would go get the culprit and put it in a cage. Then, the lawyers, magistrates, and judges would get together and eventually set the animal back loose in the wild. Except the streets of Huntington had not actually been wild, until the system filled them up with all of the animals that they had caught and released.”

Another problem is that drug dealing is “an economic crime.” Drug dealers come down from the ghettos of Detroit because they are uneducated and unskilled so they come to West Virginia where there is work. Also, local residents start selling their prescriptions for extra money to pay their bills. When times are hard, some people will do whatever it takes for their families to survive. If they have to sell their prescription for painkillers so they can pay the rent, they will.

Obviously, a solution to the “economic crime” problem would be a better economy. Hopefully, if a good economy cycles in, this side of the problem will be defused.

What are the solutions to the other problems? Basically, being a good citizen will help. We must support The HPD. We must stand behind them and help in programs that they offer. We must understand the pressures that the officers face. We must report drug dealers.

We must put pressure on our legislatures that we want tougher penalties for repeat offenders and drug dealers. We must put pressure on our courts and tell them we want less plea bargaining or harsher sentences for repeat offenders.

We must enlist our local churches and engage religion to counter the ‘drug culture’ that has been created. This type of battle is a ‘good against evil’ battle that has been going on since the beginning of time. We must fight it with positive role models, good parenting, and vigilance. Good citizens donating time to Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, and other peer groups can help.

The Huntington Police Department needs our help to make our city safer. Let’s band together and give them the moral support they need. Once the drug dealers become aware that we are all together, they will be afraid to deal. They will be constantly looking over their shoulders until they get to the point where it is just not worth it anymore. The HPD has been making them more weary as of late, there is fear in the drug dealing community. We must continue to apply the pressure. We can win this battle.

This is not Money-ton. This is Huntington. This is your town. This is my town. This is our Huntington.   //
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