Community looks to build new police department

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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SUTTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After more than four years of sitting empty, the town of Sutton’s police department is making a comeback.

Newly Elected Mayor JD Hoover said the town is looking to hire a police chief and additional officers to fill a desperate need in the small community that struggles with drug, crime and traffic issues.

Last year, community members even tried to take policing the town into their own hands by forming a neighborhood watch group that patrolled the area.

“It’s like a shift change,” Hoover said about the issues. “When the sun sets, you’ve got a completely different element walking around town than you do during the day.”

Neighbors said lawnmowers and other valuable items have been stolen off their porches at night. The community watch attempted to fill the void of not having a police officer, but people are still concerned about walking outside at night and securing their belongings.

“Anything that they can steal that they can pawn real quick or trade off real quick for five or ten bucks so they can go get their next high,” community watch organizer Shelly Sutphin said. “That’s what they do. A lot of the times they will find weed eaters on somebody’s porch.”

“It is long overdue,” Sutphin said about her excitement of getting a police officer. “There is too much that has gone on that needs to stop. I believe that when we get a chief of police it will happen.”

Currently, Sutton is protected by the Braxton County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia State Police, but Hoover said response times can be slow and they do not patrol neighborhoods frequently. There can also be times during the night when no one is on duty.

Hoover said the town has limited resources to hire police officers, but they can help make a major difference in the community. He is currently looking to find a retired trooper or deputy who wants to leave their current area and help clean up Sutton.

“Come here and help make this place better,” Hoover said. “People are nice here. It is a good place to live, it just needs a new coat of paint.”

The town has a number of people who are interested in the positions and are set to attend upcoming town council meetings, Hoover said. Applications are still being accepted. The town is hoping to get a police chief on duty in the coming weeks and build the rest of the force from there.

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