Huntington right to beef up police staffing

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It is important to learn from the mistakes of the past.

In the early 2000s, Huntington trimmed down its police force in the face of budget problems. At the same time, a new wave of illegal drug activity was hitting the city, as dealers began to reach out from Detroit, Columbus and other cities for new markets.

The combination allowed drug trafficking to grow to new levels in the city and around the region, increasing addictions, property crime and violence.

So as our area experiences another uptick in drug activity, it is encouraging to see city officials taking proactive steps to add officers and try to tackle the problem.

Last week, Huntington City Council unanimously approved the reallocation of $500,000 in the city budget to hire 10 new police officers and one administrator, bringing the Huntington Police Department staffing up to 121 sworn officers and 137 employees overall.

That will be a higher staffing level than many cities of the same size, but like Charleston that has more than 180 police employees, Huntington has struggled more with drug and crime problems than many 50,000-population cities.

After staff cuts in 2002, Huntington’s police force hit its low ebb with 75 officers…

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