Relentless River to Jail Will Intensify

by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Relentless River to Jail Will Intensify
HPD Photo
Operation River to Jail has for the last three months targeted rapid responses to  street level drug operations. However, Police Chief Jim Johnson anticipates more results from the relentless enforcement.  Huntington City Council and the Mayor had the foresight to provide resources for the street level drug operation.

Investigations and arrests have , for instance, provided intelligence that leads to "major suppliers in drug trafficking operations." That's but one of the "rewards we were not expecting," Johnson said. "We are gaining intelligence from street level enforcement that will lead to long term investigations" where investigations are conducted both from the "top to bottom " and  "bottom to top."


At the Huntington City Council meeting, Johnson said that River to Jail will continue.

"It's going to increase," Johnson said. "The Mayor has innovative ideas not ever tried in this part of the country. He will bring those ideas forward in the near future."

Through the tip line, Huntington residents have contributed information that has led to the opening of 29 cases and 19 arrests.

The success of the first River to Jail phase is not something that has been done in a "silo," Johnson said, explaining that numerous organizations and individuals have participated behind the scenes.

"Everybody is on the same page  turning this thing around. Everybody is coming together. They are tired of the talk and now they are walking the walk.  They realize we (the Huntington Police Department) can't do it by ourselves," Johnson said.

Outside agencies partnering with HPD in the operation include the Prosecutor's Office, FBI, DEA, ATF,  and the court system. Within the city administration, Public Works, the Fire Department and Finance Department are just three of departments from whom there have been incredible cooperation.

Besides recognizing the "quality and quantity" of work by police officers, Chief Johnson recalled that the department would not have been prepared for the challenge without the leadership of former police chief Skip Holbrook.

"He came in during trying times with a reduced budget and a reduced force. He did a great job. Now we can step up due to the foundation that he laid," Johnson explained.

Some of the long term investigations that last from months to years  began under his watch, Johnson said.

Illustrating the working together unity of the police force, Johnson detailed the commitment of the Detective Bureau.  Some of the officers worked 36 hours straight on surveillance following multiple robberies at Speedway.  

"When you have the same people robbing the same places, it's only a matter of time until someone gets killed, either an innocent bystander or a police officer."

The successes of all the units of the Huntington Police Department can be read in the report available below for download as a PDF.

Meanwhile, Johnson stressed that the River to Jail intensity will continue.
"If you are selling, get out of the business. If you are a user, ask for help. It's better to ask for help before you get arrested."

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