RIDGELEY -- With two robberies in as many months, the Ridgeley Police Department is coordinating with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as the investigations are intertwined.

By Ronda Wertman
Tribune Correspondent
RIDGELEY -- With two robberies in as many months, the Ridgeley Police Department is coordinating with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as the investigations are intertwined.
“We’re getting a lot of promising leads. We’re happy to help,” said Chief Jake Ryan in his monthly report to the mayor and council.
Officers have been busy with a variety of calls, including three domestic violence calls, one which resulted in an arrest, two fights, two calls for controlled substances and an array of responses for suspicious persons, vehicles and activities.
There has been another fall through the CSX railroad trestle, which resulted in injuries, and officers are continuing to crack down on the late night club scene including public intoxication and public urination.
“Things are getting a lot better,” reported Ryan.
Another ongoing operation for the department which continues to draw fire is the patrol of the CSX property.
Ryan said that use of three ATVs is being donated and that any ticket money goes to Mineral County.
“I don’t see a penny of this,” he said, prompting Councilman Jim Twigg to question, “Why are we patrolling CSX when we’re not getting anything out of it?”
Ryan explained that CSX officers are also patrolling the area. “It’s in our jurisdiction, I can’t just turn a blind eye. Just like the levee it’s part of our territory we patrol,” he added.
“Time back there is minimal,” he explained, noting that the only patrols are using the ATVs. He continued and that officers along with the Sheriff’s Department, have been back there for four-wheelers, burning, gun shots, spray paint and homeless people.
“Most of the people who go back there, other than trespassing aren’t doing anything wrong,” said Ryan. “I can’t enforce it for one and not the other.”
Councilman Don McFarland expressed his concern that the property is not properly posted.
Ryan said that CSX is expected in the coming weeks to look at posting additional areas. Mayor Mark Jones noted that he wants to meet with them when they are in town.
Councilman Duke Lantz noted that like many others, he grew up riding dirt bikes in the area and that there was never a problem until recently.
Familiar with the area, he shared his concern for the safety of the officers. “You don’t know what you are getting in deep in those woods. You’re taking a risk going back there.”
“Don’t go past the buildings, don’t go into the brush and don’t go back there by yourself,” instructed Jones.
One idea to help supplement the police force is an auxiliary department, which Ryan would like to establish.
“This isn’t a bunch of Barney’s running around shooting in the air,” said Jones noting that the trained volunteers could help with needs such as parking and traffic.
Ryan explained that this a way to get the community involved with many residents asking, “What can I do to help?”
He explained that these volunteers can observe and report along with performing security duties such as watching bus stops and helping with parking at football games.
“It’s a force multiplier,” he added. “Most of the time these guys are utilized they will be out working with us. They wouldn’t be involved in hands on law enforcement work.”
Volunteers would undergo a background check, drug test, sign a liability waiver and have training including ethics, traffic safety, first aid and CPR and constitutional rights.
Costs for the program would include the drug testing and a shirt for each officer. Funding for this has not been determined.
Ryan said that he has operational radios that can be utilized for contacting the local department and 911.
He explained that he has four Ridgeley and two Carpendale residents who are interested along with seven to eight others from the county who are interested.
The council discussed the make-up of the auxiliary noting that ideally, they should be members of the local community.
A decision on the program was table for further discussion.
In other business, Jones reported that he will be meeting with town attorney Jason Sites concerning dilapidated properties.
Twigg noted that he will be following up with the Region VIII Planning and Development Council on funding for the proposed fire station and town hall on the grounds of the former school.
Lantz reported that Ridgeley’s water and sewer increases have passed the Public Service Commission and will take effect Nov. 1.
He also suggested that the town re-evaluate offers by Shenandoah Communication to place a cell phone tower in town.
While this could provide income for the town, Lantz stated that the town should proceed with extreme caution.
“The radiation that they put off. We need to look into that,” he said.