- May 13
MPD Annual Report: Continued Crime Reduction & Community Policing Success
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 13, 2020
The Martinsburg Police Department has released its 2019 Annual Report, documenting a continued significant decrease in major crime during the past year. For the fourth consecutive year, crime has decreased in Martinsburg. Last year, compared to 2018; Assault & Batteries decreased 5%, Weapons-Involved Crime decreased 8%, and Burglaries decreased by 33%. Robberies increased by one incident over last year.
These reductions are the latest in a significant downward trend. Since 2015, Robberies have been reduced by 53%—from 40 to 19, Assaults & Batteries reduced by 11%—from 806 to 715, Weapons-Related Crimes reduced by 33%—from 66 to 44, and Burglaries reduced by 67%—from 336 to 110.
In announcing the results, Chief Maury Richards attributed these achievements to the successful and multifaceted approach of MPD’s Community Policing strategy. The MPD Chief stated that, “this dramatic and sustained crime reduction is the result of our strategic focus on problem areas; smart arrests and successful prosecutions; innovative enforcement programs such as our Drug House Ordinance, the trust and support of all segments of our community; and most importantly, the work, and dedication of the men and women of MPD.”
MPD calls-for-service during 2019 totaled 34,995. Enforcement activity included 1,803 Adult Arrests resulting in 2,667 criminal charges. Patrol Officers (not including the Downtown Unit) conducted 1,882 hours of foot and bike patrol, engaging with residents and preventing crime.
The MPD report also noted that since its inception in 2016, Martinsburg’s innovative “Drug House Ordinance” has now been utilized to shut down 62 drug houses, reducing repeat calls-for-service at these locations by 90% and improving the quality of life for Martinsburg families.
A highlight of the 2019 Annual Report featured a summary of the —The Drug House Ordinance—3rd Year Update and Assessment, an in-depth account of all Drug House enforcement activity and its direct impact upon crime. In addition to the 90% reduction in repeat service calls, the Drug House Ordinance has dramatically reduced crime and disorder. Comparing total incidents of crime and disorder 12 months before the enforcement date with the same incidents 12 months after the enforcement date, demonstrated dramatic results. Totals of drug house blocks citywide showed violent crimes reduced from 501 to 247—a 51% decrease, property crimes were reduced from 583 to 379—a 35% decrease, illegal drug incidents were reduced from 262 to 127—a 52% decrease, public nuisances were reduced from 182 to 120—a 34% decrease, and drug overdoses were reduced from 59 to 27—a 54% decrease.
Chief Richards and Deputy Chief George Swartwood attribute the significant impact of drug house ordinance enforcement to removing 62 problem buildings from the neighborhoods, a targeting of drug dealers with felony criminal charges, and taking a large quantity of drugs off Martinsburg streets. Drug House enforcement action has resulted in 89 total arrests: 80 for felony charges and nine misdemeanors. MPD and the outstanding Eastern Panhandle Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force executed 40 search warrants, recovered huge quantities of illegal drugs with a total Estimated Street Value of $464,875, and seized $22,385 in suspected drug-money. Deputy Chief Swartwood described the record crime reduction as “unprecedented.” “These impressive results are the product of the hard work, professionalism, and dedication of the outstanding men and women of MPD. I couldn’t be prouder of our entire Department,” Swartwood stated. Chief Richards said, “The Drug House Ordinance has been a gamechanger. The numbers speak for themselves.”
Other 2019 highlights included: the hiring of one new Police Officer, three Dispatchers, and three civilian support staff; the growth of MPD’s nationally recognized youth drug abuse prevention program—The Martinsburg Initiative (TMI); and continuation of the Handle With Care (HWC) program, in which MPD Officers provide Martinsburg schools with a “heads up” when a child has been identified at the scene of a traumatic event. Mentoring at-risk kids and engaging in positive interaction between police and children are essential to TMI. Every week, dozens of Martinsburg’s elementary and intermediate school children are visited by different Martinsburg Police Officers through MPD’s “Adopt a Classroom” program. During 2019, MPD officers engaged 6,282 Martinsburg students in 232 classroom visits. Last year, MPD made 81 HWC notifications to Martinsburg schools and have made a total of 252 notifications since implementing the program in 2016.
MPD launched its new Junior Police Academy in 2019, providing a special opportunity for 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade Martinsburg students to learn about the job of policing, work closely with expert police instructors, achieve goals, make new friends, and have fun. This new and exciting program kicked off last summer and is a collaboration with The Martinsburg Initiative. Lead instructor Corporal Jared Luciano, Patrolman Roderick Holloway, and Patrolman Aaron Miller developed an exciting, interesting, and challenging curriculum they presented during two sperate week-long training sessions attended by 42 students.
Based upon three core values of Honesty, Integrity, and Respect, MPD’s Junior Police Academy is something never seen before in Martinsburg. Featured guest speakers from other agencies and organizations were also part of the week-long instruction. The curriculum included daily presentations in classroom and outdoor environments with both lectures and “hands-on” learning. Junior Police Cadets also learned important lessons in American history and values, patriotism, appreciation, respect, and flag etiquette. A highlight for both sessions was a field trip and tour of Antietam National Battlefield.
Other Police and community engagement in 2019 included maintaining regular MPD visits and annual basketball game with the Boys & Girls Club. Last August, at War Memorial Park, Martinsburg’s annual National Night Out Against Crime attracted almost 500 adults and children. MPD’s proactive Canine Unit continued both a high level of drug enforcement and conducted 13 canine demonstrations in our schools and churches, positively interacting with more than 500 students and community residents.
Summarizing MPD’s 2019 accomplishments, both Chief Richards and Deputy Chief Swartwood recognized the extraordinary effort of their Department’s members. “Richards stated that, “The Martinsburg Police Department’s Community Policing strategy continues to reduce crime; increase public safety; build positive relationships between our police, citizens, and youth; and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. MPD leads the way in performance, innovation, and results. Together, we have created an organizational culture of unmatched professionalism, an expectation of excellence, and have built the best police department in the State of West Virginia.” Swartwood praised his officers, “MPD’s results and accomplishments second to none. The quality and professionalism of our men and women can only be described as outstanding.”