Street closures on police chief’s radar

CHARLES TOWN – A different way of handling street closures for special events in downtown Charles Town is among the challenges facing Charles Town Police Chief Chris Kutcher.

Kutcher, who has been chief for two years, said business owners complain when thoroughfares such as Washington Street close for bike races and other special events.

“The roads can be shut down for hours on weekends,” he said. “I have business owners calling me saying they are losing business because people can’t get to them. We want to be fair to the businesses that are affected. We need to revamp how we do things.”

Kutcher said he wants to discuss the process with David Mills, the new city manager, who assumes office Monday, to try to come up with some answers.

An increase in traffic congestion in the area also taxes his department, Kutcher said.

“We are a growing area,” he said. “We have a lot of visitors. More and more people are traveling on the 340 Corridor. However, the department is proactive. We are working to reduce speeding and traffic accidents.”

Kutcher said Charles Town remains a safe area for residents. “We don’t have a lot of violent crime here. We’re not immune to it, but we get a lot of support from the city.”

The police department now has a full staff of 15 officers, Kutcher said, though Ronald Walters is still in southern West Virginia, attending the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute.

Leon Twyman came on board May 19. The 22-year-old earned his associate degree in business from Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg.  He is working on his bachelor’s IT degree from American Public University.

“I’ve always wanted to be in law enforcement,” said Twyman, who is married and has two daughters. “I’d like to gain experience and maybe work for the FBI or DEA eventually.”

Updating equipment for the department also is on his to-do list, Kutcher said. In September, a multi-jurisdictional computer aided dispatch system will be part of the department. It will be funded by capital improvement money.

“This system automates law enforcement,” he said. “More information will be available to officers – computers will be in patrol cars. The system will connect with the fire department and the emergency management personnel.”

He said training is now taking place.


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