- Mar 14
Landlord Works with MPD to Make Latest Drug House Another Success Story
Chief Maury Richards announced the successful resolution of another Drug House Ordinance case and praised the responsible action of the landlord to fix the problem. Close cooperation between the Martinsburg Police Department and Ms. Yuen Kim Yee, the Washington, D.C. owner of the rental property at 311 ½ W. King Street, has resulted in cleaning up the most serious single problem faced since the adoption of the City’s innovative Drug House Ordinance. The building’s new property manager, Suzanne Taylor of Potomac Housing Realtors, appeared this morning before Municipal Court Judge Dale Buck to confirm that the property is in compliance with the Drug House Ordinance and that an agreement has been reached to fix the problem on a long-term basis. The case has been dismissed.
This was a dramatic turnaround from the situation a month ago when the West King Street apartment building was the location of its third Drug House Ordinance violation during the past 18 months. The latest action was the result of an investigation and search warrant by the Eastern Panhandle Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force which revealed Apartment #5 to be the source of a major heroin distribution operation. On February 13, 2019, resident Michael White, 57, was arrested on a warrant for Distribution of Heroin and tenant Kimberly Allen, 55, was arrested for Possession of Methamphetamine. Total police drug enforcement at the problem building had resulted in three drug search warrants, six felony arrests, and the recovery of 262 grams of heroin, 90 grams of crack cocaine, and 30 grams of powder cocaine with a total estimated street value of $76,200. Police had also seized $4,362 in suspect drug-money from the drug selling operations. During this period, MPD officers had responded 30 times to the location. Chief Maury Richards described the chronic situation as, “outrageous and unacceptable.”
The positive breakthrough came when Ms. Yee informed the MPD Chief that she had brought in Potomac Housing Realtors to professionally manage the building and that she was committed to partner with the police, building inspectors, and neighbors to clean up her property. Richards immediately convened a meeting at City Hall of all involved parties to get to the bottom of the problem and develop a strategic plan to straighten it out.
Participating in the problem-solving meeting with Chief Richards were Ms. Yee; City Attorney Kin Sayre; Deputy Chief George Swartwood; Director Kim Petrucci and Building Code Official Chuck Clingan from the City Planning Department; Councilman Kevin Knowles; and President Page Burdette, Property Manager Suzanne Taylor, and Operations Manager Troy Kelican of Potomac Housing Realtors.
Richards is “extremely impressed” with the action plan presented by the representatives from Potomac Housing Realtors. The new property management plan includes: immediately evicting the tenants responsible for the latest Drug House Ordinance violation, additional evictions of other problem tenants, providing a complete list of all tenants and review of the status of their leases, on-going evaluation of all residents, immediate response to police calls-for-service, fire-safety improvements, proactively monitoring the property in the future for disorder and illegal activity, strict screening and background checks for future tenants, quick compliance and necessary repairs for all City Cody violations found in recent building inspections, and the installation of security cameras. Chief Richards recognized the hard work of everyone involved in solving the problem. Richards stated, “It’s all about teamwork. We had a serious, on-going problem that was tearing down a whole block. But with great cooperation and partnership we are going to permanently resolve the drug, crime, and disorder issues at this location and improve the quality of life of the entire neighborhood.”
Deputy Chief George Swartwood also expressed appreciation for the hard work and cooperation that led to the latest drug house success. “MPD will continue to arrest drug dealers, shut down drug houses, and clean up drug areas—one block at a time,” stated Swartwood. “Responsible landlords who care about our town are critical to our success. I commend Ms. Yee for stepping up and the first-class job that Page Burdette and his team are already doing to correct a problem that had been going on for a long time,” added the Deputy Chief.
As part of the Martinsburg Police Department’s community-policing strategy, the Drug House Ordinance is a powerful drug-fighting tool. Since its adoption in April, 2016, MPD has utilized the ordinance to shut down 42 drug houses. Repeat calls-for-service at these locations have been reduced by 90%. Huntington, Parkersburg, Clarksburg, and Fairmont, West Virginia have enacted similar drug house ordinances based on Martinsburg’s to help fight the drug problem.