Cops and Courts, Preston County

Police and Peers to help with drug problem

KINGWOOD — Kingwood City Council members are giving the Police and Peers program a try.

Tonya Helmick, a member of the program who was at the Tuesday evening meeting, will work alongside the Kingwood Police Department to help with drug and homeless problems.

According to the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy, Police and Peers (PNP) is a grant-funded program aimed at sharing the workload placed on law enforcement when responding to a nonviolent, non-law enforcement-specific incident.

The concept of PNP is to pair an embedded or corresponding Peer Recovery Support Specialist (PRSS) with law enforcement to assist with social service needs encountered during a domestic response.

PNP is a progressive, fast-response program aimed at confronting the substance use disorder (SUD) issues law enforcement face when responding to an incident.

Preston Memorial Hospital has a similar program called Quick Response Teams (QRT).

The county currently has only one coach but has approached the Preston County Commission about funding to train three more.

Earlier, Dr. Fred Conley, county health officer, said the current coach works in the Preston Memorial Hospital Emergency Room. He said whenever someone overdoses and goes to the ER, the team coach contacts the patient about rehabilitation programs.

Conley said often when EMS goes out and gives Narcan to a patient, they don’t want to be taken to the ER once they regain consciousness. He said if a QRT coach is on-hand they have a better chance of talking to the patient about the pros and cons of going into rehab.

Narcan is an over-thecounter drug that’s used to treat known or suspected opioid overdoses. It blocks certain receptors that opioids bind to. Blocking receptors helps reverse the symptoms of opioid overdose.

In other business, questions arose about hunting in the city limits and crop damage permits after a resident told council members he was given permission to hunt on private property within the city limits.

City Supervisor Bruce Pyles said residents have asked him several questions about permit hunting in city limits.

“If a deer is wounded and runs across the road and damages a car is the city liable?” he asked. “Someone else asked if you are having a funeral and a wounded deer runs up and gets blood on the flowers or stains a tombstone is the city liable?”

Councilman Bill Robertson said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has to issue a permit after crop damage has been proven. He said the permit doesn’t say hunt until deer season. “Let’s approach the DNR and have someone at the next meeting who can answer these questions,” he said.

Mayor Jean Guillot agreed.

Council also approved the first reading of a sewer rate increase that will go into effect late 2025 or 2026. Guillot said it will raise sewer bills by $5.65. The next meeting of the Kingwood City Council will be 6:30 p.m. April 23.