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Tips to W.Va. copline decrease

March 12, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

RANSON, W.Va. - A crime tip hotline that helps local police stay on the heels of drug traffickers in the area has marked its seventh anniversary, officials say.

But calls to the hotline - 304-728-COPS - have declined since the late 1990s and a local police official is hoping that the recognition of the service's anniversary will spark new interest in it.

Lt. Robbie Roberts of the Ranson Police Department said he thinks part of the reason for the decline in phone calls stems from police officer shortages.

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Because of officer shortages, a drug task force made up of about four local police departments had to be disbanded, said Roberts.

Roberts said he thinks that may have caused the decrease in tips because people are not seeing police respond to criminal activity as quickly as when the drug task force was in place.

The hotline was set up mostly to receive tips about drug activity, although all types of crimes have been reported, Roberts said.

Callers have reported information about a wide variety of situations, from their neighbors having out-of-state tags to suspicious activity at homes, Roberts said.

Callers who dial the hotline hear a recording and are then given the opportunity to leave a message. The calls are not traced or tapped, and tips can be given anonymously, Roberts said.

Depending on the nature of the call, the information is passed on to a number of agencies including West Virginia State Police, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Ranson Police, Charles Town Police, Harpers Ferry Police and Shepherdstown Police, Roberts said.

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