Cops and Courts, Government, Latest News, Preston County

Prosecutor: Crime numbers up in Preston

KINGWOOD — Crime numbers are up in Preston County, according to Preston Prosecuting Attorney Melvin C. Snyder III.

Snyder told members of the Preston County Commission Monday that the number of violent felonies has increased eightfold since 2010, but the county still has only four prosecutors.

“Our office caseload is overwhelming and we cannot keep up,” Snyder wrote in a handout he gave commissioners. “We were busy 10 years ago. Now we do not have enough staff to handle all of the cases.

“This is a serious matter. Our workload has increased,” he said. “We have murder, rape, malicious assault, stabbings. We’ve had four murders since March of this year. ”

He said from 1997 to 2000 there were no murder cases. From 2005 to 2015, there was one every three years.

Snyder said felonies increased from 72 in 2010 to 154 this year, abuse and neglect cases increased from 23 in 2010 to 63 this year, and misdemeanor cases increased from 344 in 2010 to 484 this year.

He said while the number of misdemeanors have not increased much, the cases are much more severe.

Snyder compared Marion County to Preston. Preston County has twice the number of felonies as Marion. “We have four prosecutors and they have seven,” he said. “We need more staff. None of us can keep up.”

Something needs to change,” Snyder said. “I had someone try to break into my house last week in the middle of the night.”

He said people are coming from other areas and hiding out in Preston County because it’s so vast and the cost of living is low. “They come here, they steal stuff right, left and sideways,” he said.

Snyder said 70% of those charged with felonies in circuit court admitted to using meth. In magistrates court 50% admitted using meth.

“Do you know how many children under the age of 18 live with their parents?” Snyder asked. “Less than 40%. More than 60% live with their grandparents or other relatives. This has become a real issue or problem.”

He asked commissioners to consider law enforcement when they go over the 2020 budget.

“Garrett County has 58 officers, we have 27,” Snyder said. “We have the lowest percentage of law enforcement in the entire country.”

He said adding another prosecutor would help.

In other business:

Commissioners discussed road conditions and repairs. Commissioner Samantha Stone said work is continuing on W.Va. 72.

“The Aurora Pike is awful, a disaster,” Commissioner Dave Price said. “If you drive a fire truck or ambulance over it, you’re tearing up a quarter of a million dollar piece of equipment.”

PSD 1 is considering going on a six-month flushing schedule to handle some water problems. In the past, it has had complaints about the water being brown.

Fred McCullen from the National Weather Service presented commissioners with a Storm Ready Certificate.