Pocahontas County Commissioners Discuss Importance of Recent Drug Bust
Dunmore, WV – Pocahontas County Commissioner Martin Saffer has some concerns about a recent drug bust in the county that resulted in multiple felony arrests, primarily for prescription drugs. During the May edition of Commissioners Corner on Allegheny Mountain Radio, he and fellow Commissioner Jamie Walker talked about the drug raid and how to deal with the drug abuse problem in the county. Saffer seems more concerned about who they didn’t arrest.
“I read some of the warrants just out of curiosity” says Saffer, “I notice a lot of prescription pills. I don’t see any doctors in the mix, I don’t see any pharmacists in the mix. I don’t see any call for the state controlling the number of prescriptions that are written, trying to get a hold of the doctor shopping problem.”
He says the county can’t prosecute its way out of the problem, and he questions whether the arrests made last week are an effective way of going after those who sell the drugs.
“Look at the warrants – you have arrests for one or two pills, that’s what was sold” he says. “These are not major drug dealers; these are just people who are addicted to drugs, who buy and sell drugs, buy them between themselves to maintain their addictions. These are people who have a real illness, who are deeply troubled individuals who are just not able to get out of the woods on this.”
“This is not major drug trafficking, this is just a roundup of a whole lot of people who are having trouble getting out of the forest of their problem.”
Commissioner Jamie Walker gives his viewpoint on the issue.
“Well, I think it’s definitely a first step basis to correcting the problem” he says. “But then again, there’s people that’s higher up that’s probably the main concern as far as the suppliers. If we could increase the penalties a bit, I think it would help the lower people reject it more and not want to get as involved.”
Walker says he believes more job opportunities in the county would also help. But that too could present a problem as more companies turn to pre-employment drug testing.
Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese has said that he’d like to see offenders get more jail time, to give them time to kick the drug habit. But Commissioner Saffer balks at spending county money to keep offenders in jail for extended periods.
“You just can’t throw all the money at problems” he says. “You’ve also got to grow a garden of new ideas and new opportunities which will eventually help solve those problems, but it takes a longer road. But, eventually I think those are a more fruitful avenue than incarcerating and locking up every single problem that comes down the road.”
One of the callers during Commissioners Corner wanted to know if the Commssioners knew about the outside legal consultant hired by the Sheriff Jonese to review evidence prior to the drug bust. Commissioner Walker says they had limited information from the Sheriff.
“I took office in January  and to my knowledge, I [knew] he was planning on hiring outside help from when I talked to him, but it has never been discussed with me as far as who he was hiring or what he was hiring him for” says Walker.
“One of the overall questions would be who’s paying for this” says Saffer. “And out of what budget is this coming; and why wasn’t the [County] Prosecuting Attorney used because she is in fact the chief law enforcement person in the county. She is statutorily mandated to take care of law enforcement matters.”