Local drug and violent crime unit adds two police departments to its ranks

BUCKHANNON – The Mountain Lakes Drug and Violent Crime Unit has gained two more police departments.

Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory said last week that the unit already included the Buckhannon Police Department, the West Virginia State Police and the Braxton County Sheriff’s Department. The new members are the Philippi Police Department and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department.

“I know that they’ve been expressing interest for some time, and I know one thing that has kept them from joining previously has been manpower limitations,” Gregory said. “Now, they do not have that limitation, so they decided to join.”

Gregory first made the announcement at a Buckhannon City Council meeting in August.

He said the unit includes departments around the same area – ones that deal with similar situations.

“They are in our area, so we share a lot of the same issues and deal with a lot of the same individuals,” Gregory said. “The mindset of the original formation of the task force was joining together and working together as a force multiplier. It helps out each individual community and the collective region as well.”

The unit was formed in spring 2018 and Gregory said it has been successful in its goal.

“I think it’s been very successful; I think that there’s a lot of good networking between the agencies, and a lot of good positive cooperation,” Gregory said. “Not just for the law enforcement agencies, but all criminal justice agencies throughout our region, both on the state and federal level, as well as the correctional aspect of it.”

“We have interaction with probation and parole officers and there’s just a lot of good coordination and collaboration across the spectrum of criminal justice in our region,” he added.

He said forming the unit came about after years of discussion and planning.

“It’s a conversation that we’ve been having for years with various department heads in the region, just because of the amount of drug issues that each of our collective communities had been experiencing,” Gregory said. “We’ve been wrestling with drug issues for quite a while, as have all the other communities around us, and that’s why this conversation continued over the course of several years leading up to the actual foundation of the task force.”

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