Area law enforcement officers exchanging intelligence

Charlene Hoeflich

October 23, 2013

MIDDLEPORT – Cooperation between law enforcement agencies as a way of deterring criminal activity through sharing information and skills is the goal of an area organization which is currently meeting once a month.

Last week representatives of police and sheriff departments from several counties, the state highway patrol, and other related law enforcement agencies met at Middleport Village Hall for what is being described as a meeting for exchanging intelligence.

At that meeting, according to Middleport Chief of Police Bruce Swift, there was an exchange of ideas about detection and about how best to support each other in solving criminal activity. Swift said that the monthly meetings allow the various agencies represented to trade information, opens opportunities for training, and provides a system for officers to gain support from each other, particularly on cases where more than one area is involved.

Swift gave as an example the Tuppers Plains bank robbery and how it was solved through the cooperative effort of several area law enforcement agencies.

At the Wednesday meeting there were about 25 officers representing Mason, W. Va., Jackson County, W. Va. and Gallia and Meigs Counties. It was noted that next month’s meeting will be held in Gallia County with Athens and Vinton County officers to be encouraged to attend.

Having a jail where not only local offenders are housed but those from surrounding counties has contributed to better communication between law enforcement agencies, said Mayor Michael Gerlach. It has, he added, in a way inspired greater cooperation with those same law enforcement agencies for working together.

Through the cooperation of area law enforcement agencies and their use of the jail, the facility has proven to be a financial asset to the village of Middleport. Providing housing for prisoners from across the area has made the jail operation cost effective not only for the village but for those using the jail. It is currently operating at or near capacity all of the time because of the out-of-village use.

The expectation when the old Middleport Elementary School was renovated to provide village hall operations on one end and a jail on the other was that housing prisoners from other jurisdictions would provide adequate funding to make the payments on the cost of the building renovation over a 20 year period.

A recent financial report on village finances, shows that proceeds from the jail operation, over operating expenses, are exceeding the amount needed to make the two payments on the renovation debt each year. Any funds remaining after jail expenses and the set aside for payment on the loan goes to the police department for upkeep of vehicles, updating of equipment and provide training so that officers can provide service and protection for residents, and better deal with the drug problem.

According to a recent financial report for the period from April 2012, when the jail opened, through September proceeds totaled $74,790, an average of $12,465 per month. The first debt payment was made in September 2012 in the amount of $52,525.

Since the interest on the loan gradually decreases, the next payment made in March 2013 was $51,899,38. The third payment made in September 2013 was $51,273.75. The next payment in March of 2014 will be $50,648.13. Payments will continue to decrease each year as the interest payments become $652.62 less than the previous one.

Proceeds from the jail operation are currently averaging about $31,500 per month, according to the Susan Baker, village financial officer.