Morgantown Crime

10 Feb

Crime was the main topic of discussion at last night’s Neighborhood Coordinating Council meeting. Officer Robert Balderson shared the statistics from the Morgantown Police Department, which included 3654 total calls and 91 arrests for the month of January.  The Police Department received 24 calls for arson, 1 for kidnapping, 13 for drugs, and 15 for burglary.

Balderson stated that the City of Morgantown Police Department answers more calls than any other police department in the area. However, he stated that data shows that crime is actually on the decline. This information is in contrast with an article recently published by the New York Times that lists Morgantown as the sixth in the nation for growing violent crime.

The FBI gathered this information from 2007 until this present year. However, the statistic does not accurately represent crime in Morgantown because the FBI combined statistics from Monongalia and Preston Counties to create a metropolitan area of more than 100,000 people. This obviously misrepresents the City of Morgantown. Balderson stated that, “Morgantown gets a bad name because everybody considers Star City, Westover and other areas as part of the City of Morgantown.”

The Morgantown Police Department plans to issue a press release to clarify the issue and assure the city that they are working hard to keep the city safe. In an interview, Matthew Cross, the president of the Suncrest Neighborhood Association stated,

“We are so lucky in our community to have a top grade police force. They attend neighborhood meetings, listen and actually let us know what is going on.”

Officer Balderson discussed plans the police force has to further keep the citizens of Morgantown safe. This upcoming week, there will be a meeting to work on an emergency notification system fore the entire city. The department wants to coordinate a system that would combine WVU, the city, and the county into one informative and effective alert. Additionally, the Morgantown Police Department is setting up a wireless mesh network, which would include wireless cameras and possible emergency call boxes in the downtown area. Officer Balderson hopes to have this project completed by the end of July.

Cross stated that Morgantown police officers “have a tough job, particularly with the WVU student population. It’s always been a problem, with WVU being rated as the number one party school.”

However, the police force is already ready to combat partying on St. Patrick’s Day. Balderson said that the force will utilize more man power and watch the forecast, as things are more likely to get out of hand with nice weather. Additionally, the police department encourages students to lock their houses and store valuables in a safe place during spring break. They can also sign up for a watch program, where police officers keep an eye on their empty houses while they are out of town.

Personally, it is a relief to know that crime is decreasing in Morgantown. I am a senior and the university has sent out more WVU Alerts recently than ever. This, along with the FBI’s information has put a false sense of fear into many students. WVU should release a statement detailing correct crime statistics to put parent’s and student’s minds at ease.

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