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Progress reported in W.Va. drug war

February 25, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Town residents said improvements have been made by police against the open air drug markets, but a Charles Town police officer warned residents not to get lax about reporting of tips.

Nearly 90 people attended a Tuesday night community meeting sponsored by Beware Against Drugs, a local volunteer group. The meeting was held at Liberty Christian Fellowship on North Street in Charles Town.

"This street was an open air drug market," said Charles Town Police Patrolman Chris Colbert. "It took the community calling us to clean up the problem."

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One man said his house was shot at once after he called police to report drug dealers in his neighborhood. But he said calling the local number, 728-COPS, has worked to get the drug dealers off his corner.

The man said that the recent hiring of a new Charles Town police chief, Mike Aldridge, a retired high-ranking Drug Enforcement Administration official, also has had an impact.

"Since you've got this chief, some big name drug dealers from here have moved to Martinsburg," the man said.

Colbert said a recent investigation by a Jefferson County task force of police officers also led to the indictments of eight people on drug charges.

"The problem is, if everyone gets lax, they'll move back in here," Colbert said.

BAD President Matt Engle said that the meeting, the second in a series of five meetings planned by his group, is aimed at educating residents about the fight against drugs.

"It's easy to blame the police or this outfit but everyone in this room is responsible for what goes on in this community," Engle said.

Engle said he was pleased that the meeting drew an even mix of white and black residents, saying drugs affect everyone in the community.

The crowd was a mix of youngsters sitting on their parents' laps and gray-haired seniors.

Phyllis Curry, of Charles Town, attended the meeting because she said she worries about her family. She said she does not believe drug dealing is as open as it once was.

"I'm a mother and a grandmother and I'm very interested in getting our town back the way it used to be," Curry said.

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