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Police form alliance

August 06, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - When a Shepherdstown resident needs help, the first police officer on the scene may belong to Shepherd College's security force.

And when a college police officer needs assistance breaking up a party, the officers backing him up might be from the Shepherdstown Police Department.

"If the college and us didn't back each other up, our nearest backup might be 20 minutes away," said Shepherdstown Police Chief Cecil Arnold.

For the past year, an informal alliance between the two police agencies has grown, with the officers cooperating more than ever in the past.

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"Historically the agencies were very provincial: 'This is my territory and don't come into it and I won't go into yours,'" Arnold said.

That attitude has changed, he said.

"We've learned if you share your resources, you can provide a better level of service," Arnold said. "To be perfectly frank, if we all had unlimited budgets, we'd probably still be into the provincialism."

The Shepherd College police have jurisdiction on Shepherd's campus and along adjoining streets. The six full-time and seven part-time officers carry badges, guns and radios and are authorized by the state to investigate crimes and make arrests. They are required to take the same training as other police officers in West Virginia.

The Shepherdstown Police Department has two full-time and two part-time officers. Their jurisdiction is the town's borders, but like other municipal police agencies in Jefferson County, W.Va., they also are authorized to assist the West Virginia State Police and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department on calls outside of Shepherdstown.

"If we want the state police or the county or the college to come help us, then we need to go help them when needed," Arnold said.

Shepherd College Director of Public Safety Grover Boyer said the informal alliance began to grow earlier this year after the Shepherdstown Police Department obtained a federal grant to crack down on underage drinking.

A large portion of the underage drinkers live on Shepherd's campus, he said.

Since then, the two departments have started sharing equipment and information on different crimes.

"When he's got one officer out on the streets and I've got three out, we consider us having four people out," Boyer said. "It's developed into what I think is a great relationship."

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