New Ridgeley chief: Mission is proactive policing

Ronda Wertman
Special to the News Tribune
Ridgeley mayor Bill Shepherd (left) is shown with the town’s new police chief, Erik Wyer, who recently took the oath of office to oversee policing in Ridgeley and Carpendale.

RIDGELEY – Proactive community policing is the new mission statement as Erik Wyer was sworn in recently as the new Ridgeley chief of police.

Meeting with officials in Ridgeley and Carpendale, Wyer detailed his experience as a retired Maryland State Trooper and now West Virginia certified officer.

“I have goals to make this place a better area,” said Wyer while meeting with Ridgeley residents. “We have a good group of guys and everyone is fully certified.

“This department needs more community policing,” he said, noting that Ridgeley has notoriously been known as a speed trap for decades.

“We will enforce traffic law and try to prevent crime,” he added, noting a target on drug activities.

Wyer told Carpendale residents he has noticed traffic from different areas coming into town and a short while later leaving at all times of the day and night.

“We’re really going to focus on crime prevention and community relations, getting out and talking to people,” he said. “It’s one day at a time. We need the input of the community. We’ll always have an open door.

“We’re trying to get the most coverage with what we have to offer,” he continued, noting that he or officer Clint Ward will be on call so there is an officer available at all times.  As with prior administrations, residents are urged to call 911 in an emergency and they will alert the officer on call and other law enforcement if needed.

With Wyer in the Short Gap area and Ward across the river in Cumberland, they can quickly respond to assist other agencies who have responded to the emergency and be “hands on to do the investigations.”

“When something happens, people want answers,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re more available to the people.”

One new feature he wants to bring to the department is an anonymous tip line where residents can report what they see and hear without fear of repercussions.

“You live here, you are going to see more that we are going to see,” he said.  “You can drop a tip off to us and we can investigate.

“We have some ideas,” he added, listing one as license plate readers on the blue bridge. “It helps the community with a better chance of solving crimes.”

Wyer is also working on Governor’s Highway Safety Grants for initiatives such as Click It or Ticket for seatbelt awareness and programs targeting drunk driving.

“It’s good to have you. It’s good to have good honest people,” said Ridgeley resident Ken Evans, welcoming Wyer.

The department now includes three part-time officers with the latest addition being Ryan Morgan, who is a full-time deputy with the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department.

Ridgely recently added a new patrol car to its fleet with a2011 white unmarked Ford being prepared for service.

“Don’t try to out run that car,” said mayor Bill Shepherd, noting that the police vehicle features new tires, a fire suppression system and Kevlar in the doors.

Work is also progressing on the incident reporting system that has been discussed for the past year. “It’s something that is going to bring us up to date,” said Shepherd.

Original estimates for the system were $15,000-$20,000, but the cost is now down to around $6,000.

“It links us in for all crimes,” said Wyer noting that officers can work together sharing information with both the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia State Police. “It’s a necessity for safety.”

The council also approved the purchase of two additional radios for the department. Currently five officers are sharing two radios.

Wyer noted that this is slowing down response time as officers must first stop at the office before responding to the scene. “It’s just not practical. It’s not a want, it is a necessity.”

With the two additional units the full-time officers will each have one and the remaining two units will be shared by the part-time officers.