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Westover Police Chief resigns; but councilman says drug issue should be the focus

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:49 PM EDT
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WESTOVER, W.Va (WDTV) - Just moments before Police Chief Panico announced his resignation, he mentioned his concern for what he considers a drug problem in the Westover area.

He stated that in the past seven weeks, there had been 11 overdoes calls with five resulting in a death.

W.Va. is currently experiencing a drug epidemic statewide.

“It made me think of how we can resolve this problem,”said Westover Councilman Ralph Mullins.

Mullins found drug busts were happening in Westover, but weren’t including the police department and were being handled by the Monongalia County drug task force. When Mullin’s approached Panico about this he was told they were excluded from the operations.

“I told him I was going to get to the bottom of it,” said Mullins.

After being in contact with the officials on the task force, Mullin’s was told what Panico expressed was incorrect. 5 news reached out to the Mon Metro Drug Force coordinator to confirm.

“If they had felt that there had been no contact between the task force and Westover, that could have been cleared up with a phone call but I know on several occasions that there was contact from the task force to Westover,” said Monongalia Drug Task Force Coordinator.

And when asked about it today, Panico gave a different reason for not being involved with the task force.

“Because once we lose this officer, we lose control of this officer, and I’d much rather have him in Westover because he’s being paid by the residents of Westover to work on the problems in Westover as opposed to going all over the county,” said Panico.

But to Mullins, with drugs being one of those problems, he feels more needs to be done to address it.

“We are the only law enforcement agency in the region that does not have a seat on the committee of the mon county drug task force. We’re losing our citizens, we’re losing our children,” said Mullins.

Panico also mentioned that through his resignation it will allow the younger officers to provide their leadership skills and bring about changes.

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