Special Enforcement Unit Surges in Fighting City Crime

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- St. Albans Police officers say a good way to get crime off the streets is to blend in with their surroundings.

"When you pull up in an unmarked car and you're not wearing a traditional uniform, you see more than what you will in the cruiser," Lt. Marc Gilbert said.

Gilbert heads the Special Enforcement Unit, also known as the Street Crimes Unit.

Although they've only been operating for 10 months, he says they've made a big dent in fighting city crime.

In just the past month, they've made 22 arrests. Gilbert says that amounts to about one arrest per day.

"We've made felony drug arrests," he said. "We deal a lot with public intoxication. And just recently, we discovered a prostitution ring."

Mindy Sloan was arrested and charged with running the ring inside an apartment complex along Eighth Street -- right across from Central Elementary School.

Police say she solicited men over the website Craigslist and brought them back to her apartment, where she would sometimes rob them.

Ken Estep has a daughter at Central Elementary and says the crime concerns him.

"It's not the same town I grew up in," Estep said. "That's one reason I don't let her take the bus. I pick her up and bring her every day."

But Special Enforcement officers say they're around every corner, and will probably see you before you notice them.

"We focus everywhere around the city, not just one area a day," Gilbert said. "We go where the information is, and a lot of our information comes from the citizens."

Officers say about 90 percent of the arrests they make are drug related. Of those, they say most involve prescription drug abuse and heroin.

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