MORGANTOWN — Rep. David McKinley held a law enforcement roundtable with local police chiefs Monday morning to get their views on pending federal criminal justice reform legislation and dealing with the opioid crisis.
“It was a good meeting,” he said during a brief post-meeting press conference and served as a follow up to several previous meetings.
The criminal justice bill is in its final stages and President Trump supports it, McKinley said. “As we conclude the bill, I want input more from police officers, not from lawyers in Washington.”
One topic he’s interested in in training for incarcerated nonviolent offenders in order to shorten their sentences and reduce recidivism.
On the opioid issue, McKinley said, “It was a rather intense conversation about that.”
The chief are concerned that West Virginia’s opioid overdose death rate continues to rise, he said. While New Hampshire, which has the second-highest rate, has stabilized at 37 deaths per 100,000 people, West Virginia’s rate has climbed from 52 to about 57.
He said, “What’s happening in West Virginia that makes us unique, that we can’t control this problem? Other states are getting belter control over it.”
The chiefs told him that most of the illegal opioids are coming from overseas. “We’ve got to disrupt the supply chain,” he said. The chiefs noted a model shipment-intervention program under way at the Louisville, Ky., Postal Service hub. “I want to take that idea and run back with that.”
Another issue falls to the state Legislature, he said. EMS personnel around the state have told him they can’t, by state law, get reimbursed if the overdose patient they revive doesn’t go get treatment.
Although McKinley invited the press to attend the roundtable, held at the Morgantown Public Safety Building, the chiefs elected to exclude the press; the chiefs also did not attend the press briefing.