Westover police caught off guard by raid

WESTOVER — Westover police were not told about a raid at a Westover home by the county’s drug task force, Chief Rick Panico told the city’s council at its regular meeting on Monday.

“We were blindsided by this,” Panico said.

About 1 a.m., Jan. 30, the department was told a WVU Police cruiser was blocking the road on Savannah Street, Panico said. An officer went to investigate and saw men in black clothing with long guns, identifiable by police on their back, he said.

The Mon Metro Drug Task Force were conducting a raid on 24 Savannah Street, a home on his department’s radar since September, Panico said.

“Our big concern was if there’d been shots fired we’d have went down there kind of in the black,” he said. “We wouldn’t know what’s going on and that’s how people get shot.”

Panico said he plans to reach out to both the task force and UPD to ask that the department be alerted in the future.

Departments aren’t always alerted when things happen, R. Jiles, task force commander, told The Dominion Post.

“We don’t always notify the State Police when things happen,” he said. “Just the same as we don’t always notify the Morgantown Police Department when we do things.”

Jiles added the task force does communicate through different databases to ensure there are no officer safety issues. He said the raid on Savannah Street was a fluid situation and that Westover was made aware of the task force’s presence after the residence had been entered.

Westover does not have an officer on the task force, which is made up officers from the State Police, Morgantown Police Department, Granville Police Department, Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department, University Police Department and Star City Police Department.

The next step in dealing with 24 Savannah Street is sending a letter of abatement to the landlord telling them to deal with the issue, Panico said. The home will also need to be thoroughly cleaned since heroin was found inside, he said.

The raid resulted in the arrest of Demonte Larry Thompkins, 26, of Grosse Pointe, Mich. He is charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Grosse Pointe is a city adjacent to Detroit.

An ounce of heroin, 172 oxycodone pills and a large amount of money were found on Thompkins, his criminal complaint stated. Digital scales, zip-lock bags and other items generally used in the sale of drugs were found at the residence, the complaint said.

Thompkins is in North Central Regional Jail in lieu of $30,000 bond.

Donna Raley, a landlord with a house on Highland Street, asked council why she wasn’t allowed to build a second driveway on the other side of the house.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” she said.

Raley told council she rents the house as two apartments, one downstairs and one upstairs. Only one of the apartments has parking and city ordinance won’t allow a second driveway on the other side of the house, she said.

Mayor Dave Johnson said she needed to work it out with Jason Stinespring, the city’s building inspector.

Raley said she’d been working with him but he said nothing could be done. Johnson reiterated that she should work with Stinespring.

In other business:

A new police officer will start on Thursday.

Council discussed a commercial real estate commercial in executive session for about 30 minutes.

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William Dean The Dominion Post