Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance Success Continues

  • Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance Success Continues

    Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance Success Continues

    The Martinsburg Police Department announced today the continued dramatic results and positive impact of the City’s innovative Drug House Ordinance.  First invoked in August, 2016, the ordinance has been utilized 35 times with significant results in drug enforcement, cleaning up city neighborhoods, improving the quality of life for decent families, and maximizing police resources.

    In April, Chief Maury Richards reported that Police repeat calls-for-service at the problem “drug house” locations had been reduced by 91%.  A six-month review of enforcement activity reveals that the rate of success has remained steady with a continued 89% reduction in service calls at locations where the ordinance has been utilized.

    The latest review of MPD calls-for-service records shows that since the date of final disposition of the 35 Drug Ordinance cases, complaints of drug-selling activity have disappeared at these locations.  Total calls-for-service have also been significantly reduced.  During the one-year period prior to utilizing the ordinance at the 35 drug house locations, there was a total of 289 reported police calls-for-service.

    After invoking the ordinance, the total number of calls at these locations has been reduced to 32, with most of them non-criminal in nature.

    The slight percentage decrease in these impressive numbers was the result of 18 calls for service from just two locations, 301 E. Burke Street and 212 Winchester Avenue.  Both rental properties are owned by Mr. Carlos Niederhauser of Shepherdstown. Niederhauser had been previously cited for Drug House violations at both places.  According to Chief Richards, the high number of calls are “extremely disturbing.”  “The Drug House Ordinance is a powerful weapon in our war on drugs and tremendously effective in cleaning up a problem and reducing repeat calls for service to ensure it won’t come back.

    So, to have more than half of these repeat calls coming from only two locations with the same owner is simply unacceptable.  I will be meeting with Mr. Niederhauser to find out just what the problem is and seek his cooperation to fix it,” he added.

    MPD’s review revealed that of the almost three dozen drug house locations a small number were the source of on-going problems with numerous repeat calls.  Almost half of the original 289 calls involved just seven residences.  30 of the service calls were at 446 Faulkner Avenue, 26 calls at 800 W. King Street, 19 calls at 418 W. John Street, 19 calls at 235 Porter Avenue, 18 calls at 507 S. Raleigh Street, 17 calls at 527 B Addition Street, and 13 calls at 308 E. Burke Street.  After invoking the ordinance, the 142 calls-for-service at these seven locations have been reduced to only seven—almost all non-criminal.

    MPD Drug House enforcement success has been the result of hard work by motivated officers.  Lieutenant Scott Funkhouser’s Shift has been responsible for initiating investigations, including obtaining 10 search warrants, and the arrests that have shut down 11 drug houses.  Lieutenant Funkhouser stated that, “We have a great team that is making a difference in the community.  People appreciate the work we’re doing.”  Funkhouser strongly believes in the effectiveness of the Drug House Ordinance.  “It’s always frustrating dealing with the same problem house over and over again.  When you eliminate repeat calls, you’ve solved a problem for the neighborhood and we can move on to the next one.  I think it’s great.  The results speak for themselves,” he added.

    Cleaning up the 35 drug house locations has usually started with an in-depth police investigation and aggressive follow-up enforcement action.  This police work has resulted in 60 arrests and the recovery of 313 grams of heroin, 220 grams of crack cocaine, 1,361 grams of powder cocaine, 6 grams of fentanyl, 67 grams of methamphetamine, 112 grams of marijuana and marijuana wax, and 40 grams of bath salts.  The estimated street value of the illegal drugs totals $756,730.  Drug house-related police seizures have included $20,379 in suspect drug-money, eight illegal firearms, and two vehicles.

    Police operations have also been a team effort with 20 drug search warrants being obtained and executed—14 by the Martinsburg Police Department and six by the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.  Ten of the drug houses have been shut down as a result of “Operation Spring Cleaning”, MPD’s on-going undercover drug enforcement initiative coordinated by the Detective Unit’s Captain Kevin Miller, Sergeant Adam Albaugh, Corporal Jared Luciano, and Patrolman Jon Smith.

    Deputy Chief George Swartwood stated, “These outstanding results have been the product of great teamwork.  Patrol officers, Detectives, Canine Unit, Task Force, Special Response Team, Dispatch, and citizens have all made this a success.  It is part of a partnership with police that is empowering residents, property owners, and property managers to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods one block at a time.”

    Chief Richards recognized the good-faith and cooperation of most Martinsburg landlords in making the Drug House Ordinance a continued success.  “Nearly all of the landlords have been willing to work with us,” said Richards.  “Because most owners are doing a much better job screening tenants and monitoring the activity on their properties, we haven’t seen a ‘revolving door’ where one drug dealer is kicked out and a new one takes his place.  But unfortunately, a few still haven’t gotten the message.       For the landlords who haven’t joined us yet, it’s time to get on board.”